Monday, August 23, 2010

Is That All You Got, Ozawa Ichiro?

At long last, have you left no other cards to play?

On Sunday, Yamaoka Kenji, a vice-president of the Democratic Party of Japan and the ring leader of the Diet members pressing hard for Ozawa Ichiro run in the September 14 party election, revealed on television the reason why members and supporters of the DPJ should hope that Ozawa Ichiro runs for the position of leader of the party and vote for him if he does:

Yamaoka hinted on a TBS program that a Diet dissolution would not be necessary if Ozawa became prime minister. "Lower house members have a tenure of three more years," he said.

Asked why the lower house would have to be dissolved if Kan kept his post, Yamaoka pointed to the divided Diet, with the ruling parties holding the majority in the lower house while the opposition parties control the upper house.

He said Ozawa, who has strong connections with New Komeito, can surmount difficulties in the divided Diet, but under Kan's leadership the Diet would be completely deadlocked until spring, when the ruling and opposition camps are sure to clash in the Diet over the fiscal 2011 budget.
Laying aside for a moment the ridiculousness of a purported clash over the fiscal year 2011 budget -- the one kind of legislation which is guaranteed to pass through the Diet without rancor due to Article 60 of the Constitution -- this is what Ozawa has, after 40 years in the Diet, the founding and breaking up of a half-a-dozen parties, a small shelf full of books published of his ideas, a huge court at his beck and call and leading underdog parties to national victories not once but four times.

Ozawa is better than Kan because has good relations with the New Komeito.

Ozawa, who is almost certain to be indicted on accounting fraud charges in regards a real estate deal involving land he bought for a dormitory to house members of his personal staff, a man whose very presence in the Diet is opposed by 70% of voters, is the best man to lead the DPJ and the government of this blessed land because he has a good relationship with a party that worked against DPJ in the last election, instructing its voters to vote for the district candidates of the DPJ's arch-rival, the Liberal Democratic Party and which is widely recognized as the political arm of an authoritarian religious organization.

The ruling DPJ-People's New Party are 12 seats short of a majority in the House of Councillors and 9 seats short of a two-thirds override supermajority in the House of Representatives. In either case, a hook up with the New Komeito would supply sufficient votes for the new ruling coalition to pass any legislation it may so desire. Such is the terror of a nejire kokkai -- a "twisted" Diet where a single party or coalition does not control both Houses of the Diet that it is indeed worthwhile for the membership of the DPJ to elect the fraught Ozawa so that the party may grasp the hand of the even more fraught New Komeito.

Hilarious! Twisted and hilarious!

But you cannot deny the genius of it. Here is Ozawa, with the connivance of the press that hates him, raising to the level of national threat the boogie man he himself created. For it was under his tutelage that the DPJ turned the 2007-2009 negire kokkai into a graveyard of LDP-sponsored legislation and government appointments. It was under his leadership, following his example of utter intransigence, that the DPJ pushed the prime ministers and chief cabinet secretaries of the LDP into hysterics, frightening them so that they even considered, under Fukuda Yasuo, a grand coalition with the DPJ -- a plan that fell through only when the DPJ leadership aside from Ozawa gagged, believing that, yes, there were some things you should not do in order to seize power.

Be afraid of Kan because he will be defeated by the negire kokkai? Balderdash. Ozawa Ichiro is the negire kokkai. Only he would have the stubborness, the ruthlessness, the utter disregard for national priorities and the intestinal fortitude to take his opponent to the mat, no matter how much the editorialists and TV pundits screamed how irresponsible his "No" would be.

Which is the secret that Ozawa and his allies hope that Kan and his allies never, ever unravel: that no one in the current opposition, not LDP President Tanigaki Sadakazu, not LDP Secretary-General Oshima Tadamori, not LDP House of Councillors Diet Affairs Chairman Nakasone Hirofumi, not Your Party leader Watanabe Yoshimi, has the guts and the gall to vote against legislation in the nation's interest just for the purpose of injuring the DPJ. That the opposition has no Ozawa Ichiro to go the brink, and then over it, is the crack in the facade of fear. All who could block the Diet's business out of a cussed desire to do so are each and every one too nice, too intent on being liked, to push his enemies to the wall.

The negire kokkai without Ozawa as the antagonist is an annoyance, not a tragedy. He or she who realizes this will be free of fear of the negire kokkai's supposed awful power to thwart good policy and necessary legislation. He or she who has faith in the opposition's lack of will can press forward with his or her agenda, certain that by hook or by crook an able talker can cobble together alliances of like-minded legislators, incorporate the demands of opposition parties into legislation and invoke the art of compromise for the good of all.

And without the fear of a insoluably constipated Diet, Ozawa's candidacy for the leadership of the DPJ evaporates into a puff of smoke and a smear of dust.

Which is sad, because Ozawa has earned the right to go out as a dignified senior statesman, a politician who fought tooth-and-nail to win against incredible odds, who cut corners and betrayed allies with scarcely a hint of remorse, but who, when it came time for him to step aside for the good of his party and his nation, had the grace, wisdom and forbearance to do so.


Cammie Novara said...
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Fernando said...

Great post. But I'm not so sure that the opposition won't play the obstructionist poll if they think it will bring Kan's government down. The lower house has the power to force through the budget, but the so-called related bills (予算関連法案) can be be blocked by the upper house. Without them, the budget won't work.

If the Kan cabinet's public support is high, the DPJ may just be able to cobble together a majority to get these bills through.

Call me crazy, but I think Ozawa will run for DPJ president, only to be defeated, making Kan look like a giant-killer and boosting the cabinet's approval rating.

That is the only logic I can see for his candidacy. No matter what Yamaoka says, surely Ozawa doesn't think the opposition will simply roll over if he becomes prime minister, after having dogged him for months on Rikuzankai's accounting improprieties.

All this speculating is enough to give somebody a nejire in the head!

buvery said...

As Fernando says, the control of Upper House is essential to get things done, even if the agenda are budget-related. The design of Japanese Constitution is such that the Upper House has the veto power over the Lower House. Of course, the opposition parties cannot pass any laws since the Lower House is dominated by DPJ. However, they can obstruct any laws, just like the Republican senators in USA.

These three months of Kan administration gave me serious doubts about the capability of his governing. Actually, the only path that Kan could take may be the grand-coalition with LDP, and LDP-fying the party. Kan has not shown any intent of controlling the bureaucrats, or pushing through the DPJ agenda such as Kodomo-Teate and the abolishment of Futenma Marine Base. That is why it is logical for the supporters of DPJ agenda to give Ozawa a chance to pursue what they wrote in their Manifesto last summer.