In this vein it seems the journal is willing to publish anything containing a jab at "pork-barrel spending" -- even if the essay is a pastiche of nonsense.
Time for Change in JapanOh really? Not a single law? The first reform of the Basic Law on Education since 1947--not of "national significance"? The directives to NHK to emphasize the abductees issue? The reapplication of the gasoline levy, without a redirection of revenues to the general fund as promised?
The Asian Wall Street Journal
The ruling party's same-old, same-old isn't good enough.
By JESPER KOLL - The United States isn't the only major economy bracing for a change of power. For the first time in more than 50 years, a single opposition party has gathered enough strength and built sufficient credibility to dethrone Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party. And the LDP has only itself to blame for its demise.
It didn't have to be this way. Former leader Junichiro Koizumi, who led the country from 2001 to 2006, showed how to remake the LDP into a modern party. Mr. Koizumi appealed directly to voters for support, rather than party elders or faceless technocrats. Never before had a Japanese political leader put so much trust in his national vision. Voters embraced this empowerment wholeheartedly and rewarded Mr. Koizumi at the polls.
Yet the LDP quickly shunned Mr. Koizumi's legacy. His successors -- Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda and Mr. Aso -- fell back into old-style patterns of appointing ministers according to factional alignments and seniority ranking, rather than on the basis of merit and competence. While countless bills serving specific localities and industries were passed into law over the past few years, not a single law of national significance was achieved. Indeed, the Japanese people are hard pressed to name a single policy or specific policy goal for which any of Mr. Koizumi's successors stood...
Not one law?
Not defensible, Mr. Koll. Your assertion, that is.
Sadly, the above is the good part of the opinion article. The latter paragraphs are a forest of unrepentant untruths:
"Although untested in government, their consistent call for economic reform and change looks very attractive. Their leader, Ichiro Ozawa, has taken a chapter out of Mr. Koizumi's book, calling for a politics that 'places people's lives first.' "
Koizumi Jun'ichirō never said that his goal was for a politics that "places people's lives first." Indeed, his clarion calls were "No sacred cows" and "No reform without pain." So Ozawa is not taking a chapter out of Koizumi's book.
"Mr. Ozawa, in fact, sounds a lot like Mr. Koizumi these days. He understands that Japan needs a total system reboot, and has thus put administrative and bureaucratic reform at the core of his platform."
Having heard both Ozawa's utterances and Koizumi's oratory, I cannot imagine what Koll is talking about here . As for Democratic Party's platform, it is an immense laundry list of programs great and small, all of which cost money and all of which will require careful administration. As for the notion that somewhere inside this immense, ungainly scramble one can find a "core" -- well, frankly no, one cannot.
The Democrats are also mimicking Mr. Koizumi's message of youth and vigor. Almost all DPJ members of parliament are first generation politicians, men and women who left their careers in the bureaucracy or business to bring about political change. By contrast, almost two-thirds of the LDP candidates are second- or third-generation professionals who inherited their constituencies from their fathers or fathers-in-law. The Democrats' self-made men and women are largely free from vested interests built up over past generations.
Where to begin?
"Koizumi's message of youth and vigor"? No, the current Prime Minister Asō Tarō, has a message of youth and vigor. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō had a message of youth and vigor. Koizumi? Not so much youth and vigor as a preference for competence, sacrifice, super hip flippancy, and yes, good looks.
"Almost all DPJ member of parliament are first generation politicians...." Well, yes perhaps. It depends on your definition of the phrase "almost all," doesn't it? The party leadership of the DPJ is just as stacked with legacy holders (Ozawa, Hatoyama, Watanabe) as the LDP.
"The Democrats' self-made men and women are largely free from vested interests built up over past generations" -- really? Former members of the bureaucracy or business are "self-made" and "largely free from vested interests built up over past generations"? For some reason, the assumption seems overoptimistic, nay overenthusiastic. Nay, silly.
And when I say silly, I mean...silly.
The DPJ is also unlikely to adopt the LDP's pork-barrel politics -- not because their instincts are any better than the LDP, but because they simply can't afford to do so. Japan's public debt stands at 180% of GDP. The debt servicing expense eats up more than one-quarter of all current expenditures. The deficit is so large that it automatically restrains politicians from trying to spend their way to popularity.
Can anyone explain how the heck this paragraph keeps from flying to pieces? According to Koll, the DPJ will not adopt pork-barrel politics like the LDP because the national debt keeps politicians from spending their way to popularity. Nevertheless, the Ozawa and the DPJ have promised to do just that, spend at the local and national level beyond anything promised by the LDP.
1) the national debt automatically restrains politicians from trying to spend their way to popularity, and
2) LDP politicians are politicians, then
3) the national debt automatically restrains LDP politicians from trying to spend their way to popularity.
Ipso facto. Jijitsu sore jitai ni yotte.
Koll-san, what gives?