One of the admirable qualities of Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Ozawa Ichiro is his intense focus on playing the board, not the opponent. In the four years he has been running the show over at DPJ headquarters, he has not wavered, despite tremendous pressure from some party members and the press, from playing politics based on the electoral map and electoral rules the Liberal Democratic Party crafted over several decades in order to perpetuate its rule. He replaced the DPJ's astonishing compulsion to have the right policies with a wolfish desire to seize power. While one might fault him -- and many do -- for leading the DPJ from its original path of fiscal austerity and greater openness in government, he did what was necessary to get the party where it is today: so dominant that it its only credible opposition is to be found within its own ranks.
Which is why crap like this is so infuriating.
Why did Ozawa, when he confirmed that has recently had a private meeting with U.S. Ambassador John Roos, blithely tell reporters at his press conference that he and the Ambassador did not talk a whit about politics, only shared a delicious bottle of wine? Why does he not understand that his attempts to demonstrate his contempt for reporters and press editors through transparent lying actually comes across as his showing contempt for the public? Why does he continue to avoid making an unsworn appearance in the Diet to offer an explanation for his financial dealings, as 80% of the populace so demands?
Why does he let his contempt for the self-appointed watchdogs of the press veer out of control, to the point where his project of creating a new, policy-oriented political force is threatened?
Why does he not forget about his opponents in the press, the party (to whom he will not surrended power, not even in the face of electoral catastrophe in this summer's elections) the bureaucracy and big business? Why does he seem to let pride overthrow his heretofore admirable concentration on securing the vote of the non-aligned voter -- the prize in this summer's House of Councillors election?
Why does not play the board?