Though I have linked to it once already, T. Harris has written a magisterial post on the current parlous state of the Liberal Democratic Party. He proposes some possible answers to the current conundrum of Japanese politics: how despite the many wounds inflicted these past few months to the Democratic Party's longtime "clean" image, the Liberal Democratic Party has failed to earn even a modicum of respect in opposition. Indeed, with the rapid decline in the chances of the LDP returning to even par with the DPJ, the party has lost the support of the dentists, one of the LDP's most loyal institutional voting blocs... and is facing the loss of the doctors as well.
It seems the Japanese political market can only support one variegated, everybody-gets-something, ethically compromised umbrella party at a time.
When you are reduced to throwing tantrums because three ministers (though admittedly a very interesting trio of individuals) failed to get the message that a committee meeting start time had been rescheduled from 9:00 a.m. to the unusual hour of 8:50 a.m., you have really lost all sense of proportion.*
The LDP's stature has indeed sunk so low, and the New Komeito with it, that the only real opposition the DPJ faces comes from its own coalition partners.** It is because of People's New Party vehement opposition that the controversial foreigner's local suffrage law seems a dead letter, at least for this Diet session. The Democratic Socialist Party has played a milder but still corrective role as well, reminding the DPJ again and again to deliver on its campaign promises.
So there is reason for ruling in coalition with tiny but obstreperous political allies, even when they are superfluous: they can prevent you from falling in love with your own cleverness.***
The self-styled paper-of-record The Asahi Shimbun is today predicting a potentially disastrous House of Councillors election for the DPJ, on the basis that the support levels for the Hatoyama Cabinet have sunk from "stratospheric" to merely "moderate." The argument does not hold much water. The voters need to see the emergence of a plausible alternative to the DPJ before they will be willing to instigate yet another round of change. There is not one now nor is there a likelihood of there being one by the time July rolls around.
Wishing something is true as a recompense for your illusions having been shattered is not analysis. Sometimes justice is not served; sometimes a sin will go unpunished.
* That the media would report the ministers' having been late as the top political news story of course indicates how low the news media have sunk.
** A coalition ally's being the only effective opposition is not unprecedented. It was only because of intense New Komeito opposition to the LDP's authoritarian draft revision of the Basic Law on Education that the bill eventually passed in 2007 was not utterly egregious.
** Not unlike friendship in between individuals, no?
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