Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How to tell the situation in the Diet is not as serious people are making it out to be

I was feeling really bad that I could not get excited about whether or not the current Indian Ocean dispatch or Japanese participation in ISAF are unconstitutional...

[That the LDP and the DPJ are both proposing overseas deployments of SDF should be seen as a major step away from traditional Japanese political behavior, of course. So should the mutual accusations of the unconstitutionality of the other side's proposal. The pre-1993 LDP never ever got the chance to accuse the Socialists of spouting unconstitutional nonsense--just nonsense, plain and simple.]

There is just something so very dissonant about nitpicking over the legal status of a consignment of fuel inserted into one U.S. vessel's gas tank, which was then siphoned off to another ship's gas tank, becoming problematic when that second ship made an unforeseen left turn and entered the Persian Gulf to become the platform for the first aerial sorties of Operation Iraqi Descent into Warlordism Freedom.

As far as I remember, the previous prime minister was taken bodily from the Kantei and held in a wing of Keiō University Hospital, leaving the country without a head of government. I cannot remember any of the editorial boards thundering, "Well now that the prime minister has been hospitalized, who is in charge in the government and exactly under what law or directive?"

For me coups d'état (What else do you call the removal of a head of government by a self-selected group outside of any known due legal process?) trump runaway diesel fuel shipments in terms of posing serious questions about Japan's future.

I also find myself curiously unmoved by the "clash of the titans" between the LDP's Matsuzoe Soichirō and the DPJ's Nagatsuma Akira. Matsuzoe needs to be given a few months to fail spectacularly in his attempt to force the Pension Bureau's employees to do their jobs. Having the two critics flailing away at this stage of Matsuzoe's stint as Health & Welfare Minister gives shallow, self-important political theater a bad name.

As for the latest counterattacks against Ozawa Ichirō for supposedly shady real estate deals by his political funds management group, they are so insubstantial and petty that only a prisoner of Nagata-chō could care about them. If the funds management group did not try to cover the costs of the ownership of a pair of apartments (bought to serve purposes that have since become superfluous) through renting those apartments out to others, it wouldn't be managing Ozawa's funds very effectively now, would it?

And who the hell has an interest in flogging this "Will there be an election on December 16 of this year?" trope?

I try to keep telling myself, "These are important elements in the game--the grand struggle for power between the LDP barons, the younger generation of nationalist ideologues in both parties and Ozawa Ichirō."

I just cannot bring myself to care about any of it.

How thrilled am I therefore to see Budget Committee interpellations on whether or not the word "faction" is a good word to use to describe the main informal organizational divisions within the LDP. Three cheers for sinophobe, comfort women denier and former Minister of Education Nakayama Nariaki, who floated this love note toward the prime minister:


"The current form of factions is for practical training and the study of policy, as well as a social gathering point. The image of of a patron tieing [a faction] together with cash and appointments has faded away."

To which, Prime Minister Fukuda--the prime minister the faction heads selected after their vote-gathering automaton exploded on them--chirped:


"Honestly, it is disheartening that even now they are being called 'factions'. I would prefer to call them 'policy research groups'"

Now this is a non-policy non-debate I can get my head around!

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