Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Back to You, Francisco

It turns out the Democratic Party of Japan's switch in tactics on the renewal of the legislation authorizing the dispatch of Maritime Self Defense Forces vessels to the Indian Ocean is even cleverer than I first supposed.

According to the Sankei Shimbun, the Democratic Party has agreed to a perfunctory two days of debate of the legislation in the House of Representatives, followed by a vote on the bill. Even with only the votes of the Liberal Democratic Party, the bill will pass the House of Representatives. The bill will then be transferred to the House of Councillors where, after an equally brief and perfunctory debate, it will be soundly rejected by the DPJ-led majority. The bill will be then sent back to the House of Representatives where the LDP and the New Komeitō must engineer a "two thirds of the Diet members present" Article 59 override passage of the bill (see Okumura Jun on a tricky way they might do this), renewing the dispatch for another year.

A smooth maneuver, really.

Truncating debate on the bill will force the New Komeitō into make a public statement in this Diet session -- i.e. prior to an election -- clarifying its stance on the dispatch of the Self Defense Forces in support of U.S.-led international security operations. This will expose the chasm separating the New Komeitō's leadership from the party rank-and-file on this issue.

Truncating debate will also allow the DPJ to reiterate its stated position on the dispatch -- that the party opposes the dispatch as a matter of principle, the details of which have already been argued ad nauseum in previous Diet sessions. Speedy action in both Houses will inoculate the DPJ against the accusation that it is tieing up the business of government to the detriment of the common weal.

Hmmm. That's not just good politics; that's great politics.

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