Folks are excited that the Democratic Party of Japan has given hints it intends to submit a bill on the reformation of the electoral districts on Wednesday (Link) Folks are equally excited at the Prime Minister's lobbing of Japan's participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership into the discussions of policy promises the DPJ will be including in its election manifesto. (Link)
Both acts are portrayed as harbingers of an election.
Whoa. Try to keep stuff in perspective, folks.
The submission of a bill reforming the electoral districts, if it is the one the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito let die in the last Diet session or if it is the LDP's minimal +0/-5 draft bill, is only the first step of a lengthy bargaining process between the ruling and opposition camps. Once a bill erasing the unconstitutional disparities in between the highest and lowest population districts passes both Houses of the Diet, the Noda government can still delay the calling of an election -- on the grounds that if the government and the opposition wish to avoid any taint on the election, the process of redistricting will have to run the course described in the public elections law.
The country's main political parties could, of course, collude and hold an early election in contempt of the law. However, the hold of the winner upon the tiller of government would be unsteady, subject to court challenge. Under the circumstance who, aside from LDP president and man-in-a-desperate-hurry-and-none-too-fond-of-the-Constitution-anyway Abe Shinzo, would want to press for an early dissolution of the Diet?
As for the inclusion of Japan's participation in the TPP in the Democratic Party of Japan's manifesto, hold the horses.
As the prime minister stated, Japan's participation in TPP would be part of a broader strategy, running in parallel with negotiations on a trilateral China-South Korea-Japan trade pact. By making this linkage, the prime minister makes clear Japan will essentially be trying to play both sets of negotiating partners against each other, as well as against other inter-regional negotiations in which Japan has shown an interest.
Let us see how Japan's negotiating partners respond to that ploy, shall we?
That the PM cannot count on the vote of his own party – that indeed just talking about including the language of TPP participation in the party manifesto could drive enough legislators out of the party as to trigger the collapse of the government -- should be a cold shower for those getting all excited at the Noda announcement.
The Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito have to fold on the bond issuance bill before we start talking about elections. So let us wait for that inevitability to happen before we get hopped up about a Diet dissolution, OK?
Later - The inimitable Corey Wallace has checked in with his own, more expansive examination of the TPP as strategy, tactic, diversion and lead balloon. (Link)