Thursday, February 08, 2007

If I were a poll taker...

...for the Democrat Party of Japan (DPJ), I would want to find out the answer to this question:

"What is it about Prime Minister Abe Shinzō that annoys you the most?"

If the results from Sunday's election mean anything, it is that the seriously annoyed floating voter is back on the warpath against the LDP.

The DPJ needs to take note.

For me, the answer to the question would be that Abe (and Nakagawa Hidenao is an unindicted co-conspirator in this) has allowed the reflorescence of the worst aspect of the pre-Koizumi LDP: the delaying of crucial policy decisions "until after the next election". One of the gifts that Koizumi gave Abe (and which Abe, during his apprenticeship as Chief Cabinet Secretary, should have picked up) was a wrenching apart of the policy discussion and implementation process from the political calendar.

Right now the country has two ticking timebombs set to go off--the revelation that the economy has been in a stall for over half a year and the need for a tax increase to fund government obligations. Action on or even honesty about these two issues is being deferred, in the case of the tax increase officially deferred, until September.

The voters see through these delaying tactics. Indeed, I think the voters feel insulted by the implications of the delay. "If the issues are so important, why don't we attack them now? Do you think we can't handle the truth?" would be the average voter's lament.

If someone would ask her, of course.

In order to profit from this particular annoying aspect of the current regime (there are probably so many others polling would identify) the DPJ does not have to tell the voters how it will deal with these pressing issues (Okada Katsuya tried that approach in the summer of 2005 and the party got blown away for his troubles). The DPJ leaders need only say that if the DPJ in power, it would face these issues, squarely, honestly...and not keep putting off the day of reckoning.

For in truth, there is always a "crucial next election" just a few months away...and real leaders don't keep avoiding problems.

1 comment:

The French reader said...

Well, it is not exactly right to write that Koizumi has always been that strong leader not taking care of those eternaly "upcoming crucial elections". For instance, look at 2003 (September's LDP internal elections and November's general elections). It seemed that Koizumi had been very careful in the handling of the Iraq file and the Japan Highway privatization. No major reform was debated before those elections. And Koizumi's pet project, the privatization of Japan Post, was to be discussed and voted basically on a year (2005) WITHOUT any elections on the agenda. True, he then dissolved the Lower House and some elections were held in September, but that was after the Upper House rejected his project. Abe is now in the same situation, I guess. And the powerful Nakagawa may have become a prime ministers-maker. Abe needs to take care of fatty Nakagawa. Anyway, pour le meilleur et pour le pire, elections are the true essence of democracy. That leaders decide to postpone crucial decisions is not a Japanese/LDP particularity.