" Half the people are stoned
And the other half are waiting for the next election.
Half the people are drowned
And the other half are swimming in the wrong direction."
- written by Paul Simon as a gift to Leornard Bernstein.
included in The Bernstein Mass
On November 25, in a speech in Ōtsu*, Democratic Party leader Ozawa Ichirō warned the assembled that they should prepared for a sudden dissolution of the Diet and House of Representatives election. He asserted that there need not be a reason for the dissolution, that neither side needed to be ready to campaign--something might just happen in a "hyon na koto de deaigashira."
A deaigashira jiko is a head-on collision around at a blind corner--where neither side is necessarily in the wrong in terms of rights of way--but a collision nevertheless occurs out of a combination of imprudent speed, inattention and blocked vision.
So we have our two heroes, Ozawa and Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo, clad in their fall coats (nice seasonal detail here) their backs pressed to a wall, centimetering up to the corner. Improbably, since the two men are on two sides of a single continuous wall, Ozawa is in "Diet Censure Sanchōme" while Fukuda is in "Diet Reapproval Sanchōme"-- for each man the act in the Diet that ensures a confrontation with the other. At the corner, the street sign warns "Diet Dissolution" with the words surrounded by the universal graphic for a collision.
"Deaigashira keikai piripiri" -- "tingling with warning of an impending head-on collision at a blind corner"
In recent years the LDP has earned a great deal of criticism for its unwillingness to face the voters. Even this year the party chose to delay the House of Councillors vote, demonstrating an almost pathetic fear of the voter's wrath (the delay did not help one iota--not that delaying ever does).
Right now, however, both the LDP and the DPJ wish to avoid going to the polls--and not only because it is cold right now ( you wonder why no elections in the winter?) . The LDP has still not proven it can get anything done in the new Diet environment created by the loss on July 29. Indeed, if one thinks back over the fun of the last 3 months, one would come to the opposite conclusion. The DPJ, for its part, is still way behind in finding enough candidates for the district seats...and still has to make amends with the microparties for Ozawa's nearly joining hands with the LDP in a grand coalition last month.
Neither side is ready for a dissolution.
So our doughty lads creep along the wall, terrified of running into each other.
Later - Thank you OJ, for the correction.
* The Ōtsu speech was a stop on Ozawa's continuing grand tour of the countryside while the Diet is in session. Ozawa's imperial progress to Beijing is just part of a larger pattern of his absenting himself from his Diet duties in order to shore up his image as a man who can deliver the political goodies.