Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crunch Time For The TPP and Noda

Today's the day when the heretofore Delphic Oracle of Nagata-cho, Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko, makes his "political decision" regarding Japan's participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. I say the odds are still 50-50, despite the intellectual firepower that has been deployed in favor of participation. On the ground and over the airwaves, the actions of pro-TPP forces have been pathetic in their flaccidity, whilst the anti-TPP forces have marched unimpeded into the public consciousness.

With the DPJ neatly divided in two, the public (according to the latest polls) showing only a fractional majority in favor of participation and not just the opposition parties (Do you know how weird it is to see Oshima Tadamori, Shii Kazuo and Fukushima Mizuho sharing a stage at a huge rally, with all three of them wearing identical headbands?) but the government coalition partner the People's New Party against participation, the consensus builder Noda is facing the challenge of his life, at a time he would much rather be hammering out the details of the third supplementary budget, ferreting out the resources necessary to reconstruct the Tohoku region and mitigate the Fukushima disaster and pushing through a rise in the consumption tax to pay for Japan's mounting retiree and healthcare costs.

As for the Korean Example, which was supposed to goad the country into accepting the mixed bag of burdens that is the TPP so as not to fall behind the seemingly FTA-mad ROK, the opportunistic fight breaking out in Seoul over ratification of the Korea-U.S. FTA could not come at a worse time.

The world (well, at least the world investor class, which controls much of the way the world is portrayed) is screaming "Go" and the political situation at home is screaming "Stop."

No matter which path Noda chooses today, he loses.


Carolyn said...

After spending so much time publicly speaking in support of Japan joining TPP negotiations, Noda really can't afford to have it not go through...

Sure, he's going to get flack from some DPJ members (and of course the LDP) for endangering agriculture, etc...but Noda will only survive as PM if he continues to be seen as decisive and effective in pushing through needed policy. A failure on TPP would undermine his ability to negotiate effectively on any other controversial initiatives (especially tax increases) in the future.

TenThousandThings said...

Should Japanese public policy be determined by the desire of one politican for political survival (Carolyn's analysis) or should it be determined by democratic process in which political and civil society representatives of citizens communicate and negotiate to reach a broad consensus?

As an elected PM of the people of Japan, Noda's job is to represent their interests, even if he loses his office.

Thank you for your excellent info & analyses at Shisaku.

"The ethics of democracy regarded mutual concession and compromise not as defections from principle but as ways of reaching agreements which on the whole were more satisfactory than any that could be reached by the dominance of one interest or one party over all others." (George Sabine, A History of Political Theory)

MTC said...

TenThousandThings -

Sorry, your comment had to be retrieved from the gullet of the spam filter.