On Christmas Eve I likened Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko to a marine invertebrate, disgusted at his floopy defenses of awful, divisive decisions made by his government last week.
Well, it seems that an onslaught of feelings of disgust and dismay are washing about the prime minister right now, so much so it is hard for him to keep his head above the froth. How lucky that he spent the weekend in China and this evening hopped aboard a plane to India.
Where to begin?
- The F-35 decision - Liberal Democratic Party defense policy wonk Ishiba Shigeru, who has never been known to oppose any military acquisition before, promises in an interview with the Tokyo Shimbun (J) that his party will grill the government in Diet Budget Committee session. Ishiba quite clearly believes that the decision was a political one, to please the government of the United States when the Democratic Party of Japan has made such a hash of handling the Futenma Replacement Facility controversy. He is also convinced that the F-35 is simply the wrong plane to purchase at this time.
When you have lost a confessed military otaku as Ishiba over an order for a cutting-edge weapons system of primarily U.S. manufacture, you have really messed up.
- The Yamba Dam decision - DPJ Policy Research Council Chairman Maehara Seiji told the prime minister and the chief cabinet minister that a decision to restart the cancelled Yamba Dam project would not garner party support. DPJ Secretary-General Koshiishi Azuma echoed Maehara view. Acting Secretary General Tarutoko Shinji said the party will not support the decision. To this, Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura Osamu seems to have responded something on the lines of "What we have here is a failure to communicate." The three party officials threw up their hands and deferred to the government's wishes to restart the miserable project.
Well, what has happened, aside from every media outlet pointing out that the restart of the dam project represents a final turning away from the promises set out in the party's 2009 electoral manifesto? Nakajima Masaki, a proportional seat holder from the Northern Kanto Bloc has announced his intention to leave the DPJ, with support for his decision from the DPJ's district seatholders (J). In addition, Ishizeki Takashi, the party's Representative for Gunma District #2, is resigning from all of his party posts. In the party's Tax Committee meeting on Monday, which was supposed to discuss the government's various tax proposals including a rise in the consumption tax, two of the three hours of the meeting was taken up by opponents of the Yamba Dam airing their complaints about the decision.
- The Budget and Tax Proposals - The prime minister wants to have all discussions of the budget and tax rise proposals finished by the end of the year. A budget put together seemingly without rhyme or reason was approved on Saturday, with provisos to set in motion a rise of the consumption tax. The rush to push through all the decisions on these proposals before the end of the year has result in severe party discord. Three DPJ Representatives have announced they are leaving the party in a protest against the precipitous raising of the consumption tax. They hope to lead another seven to eight Representatives out with them and form a new political party (J). In another move, 89 first term members of the House of Representatives have sent a joint message to the party leadership that before the government can consider imposing a rise in the consumption tax on the citizens, the DPJ must follow through on its promise to cut the number of Diet members -- this even though the most of the seats to be cut would come from amongts those held by the first-termers.
Seems like some folks still have some spine and revolutionary spirit in the DPJ after all.
To be sure, the multiple rebellions and threats seems to be taking their toll on the heretofore unflappable PM. On the news tonight, his right eyelid was drooping, making the man look as though he needed a shave, a shower and a full night's rest.
Maybe he will get some sleep on the plane.
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