Ozawa Ichiro's keeping quiet -- so he is following Prime Minister Kan Naoto's suggestion that he do so for the good of the nation, the party and himself.
It is seems the Old Toad has read the fine print, though. He was asked to keep quiet, not stay silent.
Whilst campaigning in Yamanashi Prefecture on Thursday for his buddy Koshi'ishi Azuma (Doesn't Koshi'ishi's website make just hop on the Chuo Line and go to Yamanashi right now?) Ozawa made a rather public visit to the grave of Kanemaru Shin, a rather interesting and embarrassing choice of local worthies to honor with a visit at election time.
After a roadside speech to about 40 local residents, Ozawa also uttered his first words of criticism of the new DPJ regime since its installation three weeks ago. They were hardly hair-raising quotes: he told reporters he thought Kan's goal of leading the party to winning "54 seat plus alpha" too weak, saying that the goal of a ruling party is to win a majority (which in the case of this upcoming election means 60 or more seats - a goal that Kan yesterday declared he would "spare no effort in achieving"). Ozawa also said that in order to improve the Japan's fiscal position, raising the consumption tax should not be done soon -- that the party's stated goal is to get rid of as much wasteful spending as possible first.
On Friday, up in Aomori, Ozawa got a little bolder, playing the concern troll regarding the decision to talk about raising the consumption tax in the run up to an election. He dangerously chose to play the city/country dichotomy card --- shining a light on the truth that cannot speak its name, that following this election the DPJ intends to terminate the countryside's dependency on largess and support from the center, forcing the countryside to either pull itself up by its bootstraps or fail -- saying, "The prime minister seems to talk continuously about [raising the tax to 10%] but out here in the countryside, as compared to the city, the economic situation is severe. If you talk out [in the countryside] about a 10% consumptipon tax, for myself this gives me tremendous worries."
Just to throw salt in the wound, Ozawa reminded listeners that under the Hatoyama Administration (of which he, of course, was the string puller) the DPJ had issued a public promise to not raise the consumption tax for three to four years.
Way to be a team player when your party needs you, Ozawa-san.
For an explanation of the title, see Proverbs 11:29. For some photos of a few of Yamanashi's places to visit, check out a few selections from the Flickr site.
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