It was strange watching the video of Osaka City Mayor Hashimoto Toru presiding over the meeting of an Ishin no kai steering committee as the delegates ratified list of ultimate goals for the quasi-party, if and when it participates in national elections.
The list of the Ishin no kai goals includes:
- abolition of the House of Councillors
- direct elections of the Prime Minister
- abolition of the prefectures in favor of larger regional units resembling the German lander (the various plans known collectively as the doshusei).
- abolition of the grants from the national government tax revenues to local areas (chihokofuzei) in favor of direct taxation carried out by the local areas themselves
[By the way, where are the sources of the chihokofuzei grant monies?
32% of income taxes
32% of taxes on alcohol
34% of corporate income taxes
29.5% of the consumption tax
25% of tobacco taxes (Source)
Not a bad cut of national revenues...]
- elimination of national pension payments to the wealthiest taxpayers after their retirement (nenkin hokenryo no kakesute - J)
What was so strange about the video clip was how disengaged Hashimoto looked (especially since that last idea is his). Whether it was out of boredom, madness or a desperate attempt to anesthetize himself to the berzerk radicalism of his minions, Hashimoto was simply not there, emotionally or intellectually.
The list of campaign promises, which the Ishin no kai, in complete agreement with its ersatz Meiji Restoration revivalist ethos has called its "Eight Policies from the Ship" (senchu hassaku) in imitation of Sakamoto Ryoma's famous missive, has already drawn guffaws from the established political parties. The leaders and spokesmen of the parties had a field day yesterday, pointing out that item after item would require not just a revision of numerous laws but even amendment of the Constitution, a document which has not seen the alteration of even a single punctuation mark since its promulgation on November 3, 1946. (J). That any and every amendment would require not only its passage through the Diet with a two-thirds vote in both Houses but approval from the voters in a national referendum (the governing rules of which came into effect less that a year ago - J) casts the Ishin no kai wish list into the realm of fantasy.
Applause did come from some quarters yesterday. Predictably, the terrible twins of the Chubu Region Aichi Governor Omura Hideaki and Nagoya Mayor Kawamura Takashi had nice things to say about the quasi-party platform (J). Omura echoes every decentralization plan coming out of Osaka and Kawamura, well, he is just nuts (but in a damnably warm and clever way. His tour de force has been providing the depleted Tohoku with wave after wave of Nagoya civil servants to replace persons lost in the triple disaster or for the training of their replacements -J).
The surprise was the positive reaction of the Your Party to the Ishin no kai proposals. Your Party leader Watanabe Yoshimi praised the list, saying that in terms of bringing the national bureaucracy under control, decentralizing of authority and making Japan a nation of prosperity, the goals of the Ishin no kai and the Your Party are completely in sync (J).
Maybe he just scanned the text.
Major media outlets have panned the proposals. The Asahi Shimbun suggests that the ideas expressed needed a little more intra-party discussion before being released (J). The Sankei Shimbun wonders what happens to the Emperor as head of state, if the prime minister is popularly elected (J).
Up until now the Ishin no kai has been on a roll. It had, possibly because the reality of what it represented had not been spelled out, been gaining popularity in the public imagination.
It remains to be seen whether the release of this wild wish list slams the brakes on the what had been until a hurtling "Go Go Hashimoto" freight train.
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