Short Answer: "Yes. "
Slightly Less Short Answer: "Yes -- by definition."
Long Answer: The Democratic Party of Japan has two routes to power.
One route is to take on the trappings of the traditional LDP, rely on promises of fiscal support to interest groups in the over-represented rural districts and the reversal of the market-based reforms of the Koizumi years, eke out enough wins in rural, suburban and urban districts to become the majority party in the House of Representatives, then cement its victory by doling out political patronage to the rural districts from out of the economic surpluses generated in the party's tradition strongholds in the urban and suburban areas, thereby seriously compromising the DPJ's longtime identity but leaving the electoral map undisturbed.
The other route is to take on the trappings of the traditional LDP, cobbling together enough angry anti-establishment, anti-market-based reform votes possible to eke out enough wins in rural, suburban and urban districts to become the majority party in the House of Representatives, then immediately turn its back on the rural districts (many of the party's rural representatives will be freshmen, by definition--and thus expendable, by definition) passing legislation eliminating and consolidating many rural electoral districts and multiplying suburban and urban ones - all this being done out of the noble intent of "eliminating disparities in the relative voting strength of the citizens" ("ippyō no kakusa") - transforming the electoral map without seriously compromising the DPJ's longtime identity.
In order to win a majority of seats in the next election, the DPJ must compromise on its traditions and ideals. However, to cement its electoral victory -- to make the victory reproducible - the DPJ must make permanent changes to either itself or to the electoral map.
Yesterday, in an agreement with the New People's Party, the DPJ agreed to alter its election manifesto on the issue of postal reform. Under the new formula, the DPJ will call for revision of the Koizumi era laws privatizing and splitting up the post office's many functions.
In return, the DPJ - New People's Party alliance hopes to receive the votes of the members of the National Special Postmen's Association (Zenkoku Yūbinkyokuchōkai, or Zentoku, for short). Party leader Ozawa Ichirō and New People's Party leader Watanuki Tamisuke had dinner on Wednesday night with Zentoku president Urano Osamu.
Aha, so it is the DPJ's traditional identity that is getting the chop!
Not so fast.
First, technically, the DPJ had no input in the reforms of the post office enacted after the LDP's landslide victory in the 2005 House of Representatives elections. The reforms were the handiwork of Prime Minister and LDP President Koizumi Jun'ichirō. By modifying its stand on postal reform, the DPJ is merely changing its opinion of an LDP-instigated reform.
Second, cloning the LDP in order to beat the LDP is a one-shot deal. When the citizens find out that handing Ozawa Ichirō and the Democrats power does not lead to a new, different style of governance, they will toss the DPJ out on the street in the very next House of Representatives election, including and especially many of the party's core leaders.
Not a good thing, especially for the party's core leaders.
The better, more Machiavellian strategy will be to betray the party's newest supporters in the rural areas (and the revived alliance with the People's New Party) not the party's base in the cities and suburbs. New supporters will be fickle and untrustworthy anyway - they had until so very recently been the supporters of another party. Sacrificing their interests in favor of the "nation as a whole" will be easy. (Sacrificing the alliance with the People's New Party, which petulantly suspended cooperation with the Democrats over the nomination of Ikeo Kazuhito to the Board of Governors of the Bank of Japan, will be even easier.)
The Democratic Party will also almost certainly promise to take good care of the Diet members whose electoral districts are marked for elimination ("A nice new Kanagawa single seat district with ocean fronting, perhaps? What's not to like?")
Are the Democrats duplicitous enough to pull this off? The strongest indication of that the answer is "Yes" came in June when House of Councillors Speaker Eda Satsuki (a Democrat, though officially non-aligned for appearances' sake) very quietly asked the House of Councillors Reform Conference (San'in kaikaku kyogikai) to look into the reapportionment of House Councillors district and regional bloc seats in order to rectify the huge disparities in between the voting strengths of the least populated and most populated prefectures.
Now such a reform of the voting strength disparities in the House of Councillors (at their worst, up to 5 times - meaning that the votes of some citizens are worth 1/5 the votes of others) has been a longtime topic of House of Councillors deliberations.
It has also been, for an equally long time, something of a parlor game. In some publications the member of the House of Councillors are called "Senators," and that is not a bad description. Like the United States Senate or the senates in other republics, the House of Councillors is not supposed to proportionally represent populations. Representing populations proportionately is the job of the House of Representatives.
(Whether the Diet's House of Representatives actually does this is another question...a question whose answer is "No.")
Indeed, by not reflecting proportional voting patterns, the House of Councillors--when it is operating according to its constitutional ideals--is supposed to function as a brake on populism.
(Hello, Twisted Diet!)
So if the apportionment of House of Councillors seats does not necessarily have to be representative to be constitutionally useful, then what is Eda (who is no dummy) up to?
Could it be that apportioning more House of Councillors seats to the urbane and suburbane prefectures (the most likely reform proposal--because one cannot cut the number of Councillors in a prefecture below two) is a dry run for a similar reform in the House of Representatives? Fighting voting strength inequality in a House the DPJ already controls will be giving the DPJ not only the experience in how to conduct a revolutionary reform of a Diet House--but the moral authority to do the same to a House it does not yet control?
It would certainly open the way for transforming a cobbled-together, skin-of-one's-teeth, promising-the-moon, fundamentally dishonest election victory into a secure, possibly permanent Democratic Party majority in the House of Representatives.
Unless, of course, some one points out to everyone Ozawa and the Democrats cannot possibly fulfill the promises they are making.
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