Monday, October 27, 2008

Asō Tarō Closes the Gate

If anyone wanted to jump ship, either from the Liberal Democratic Party or the Democratic Party of Japan, in the hopes of establishing a party of expansive security capabilities and liberal economics (yes, I am talking about you Nakagawa Hidenao, Koike Yuriko and Maehara Seiji) it looks as though the Prime Minister is slamming the door on you.

All of a sudden last week he began to say all kinds of weirdly responsible and self-aware kinds of stuff:

Aso indicates reluctance to call election anytime soon

BEIJING, Oct. 26 — Prime Minister Taro Aso indicated his reluctance Saturday to dissolve the House of Representatives for an election anytime soon, saying he wants to prioritize his "international role" during the global financial crisis.

"Rather than the domestic political situation...I again feel the greater need to prioritize my international role," Aso, who took office in late September, told a press conference held after he attended the Asia-Europe Meeting summit in Beijing.

But he added that there are "still various issues" he has to consider and that he cannot say anything more because he has not "yet decided at this stage whether I will or will not" call an election.

Aso made the remarks amid speculation that he is close to deciding when to dissolve the lower house, as he is expected to finish compiling a further economic stimulus package by the end of the month in the wake of the global financial crisis.

During the press conference, he also stressed the need for countries to take coordinated actions to deal with the problem and that Japan needs economic-boosting measures.

"Japan has been depending on exports in the past eight years and this part will apparently see sluggish growth, so from this perspective there is the need to expand domestic demand," the 68-year-old prime minister said...
According to this morning's Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Prime Minister Asō yesterday decided to drop the pretense of being undecided. By sometime this morning his emissaries will have informed the other parties the Prime Minister will not be dissolving the Diet in the immediate future.

How will the DPJ and the Kōmeitō react, after they have had a few days to think? Both have cooperated with the LDP these last two months, muddying their political messages in the process, under the tacit agreement that an election would be called for November.

My guess is that the two parties will not react with insouciance.

As for the structural reformists - it looks like they blew their best chance at a return to political relevance. The Prime Minister seems to be embarking on an improbable quest of recasting the LDP as the party of intelligent fiscal spending and effective crisis response -- the heart of the structural reformist way.

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