Thursday, November 01, 2012

On A Dark Desert Highway

Yesterday Nagoya Mayor, former Democratic Party of Japan district seat holder and man of questionable taste and judgment Kawamura Takashi (Official Homepage) held a press conference yesterday announcing that having attracted to his Genzei Nippon (Link) movement the number of Diet members necessary to render it a political party eligible for both public election funds and capable of fielding candidates in the proportional list part of the national ballot, he had filed for eligibility and received it.
Nagoya mayor's Genzei Nippon becomes national political party

NAGOYA — Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura's political group Genzei Nippon (Tax Reduction Japan) became a national political party Wednesday.

The party, trying to promote itself ahead of the next Lower House election, which must be held by summer 2013, was able to register on a national level with the government after finally meeting the requirement of having at least five Diet members, including Koki Kobayashi, who will be its head as Kawamura's proxy.

Kawamura, a former lawmaker of the Democratic Party of Japan, aims for the party to field as many candidates as possible in the next House of Representatives election. Its key goals are to oppose tax hikes, phase out nuclear power and halve Diet members' annual salaries.

Kawamura said he is seeking to create "a third and big political force" that can take on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's DPJ and the Liberal Democratic Party, the main opposition party, in the next election by working closely with other small parties, including one to be formed by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

Genzei Nippon was able to be established as a national-level party after Atsushi Kumada and Tomohiko Mizuno, both Lower House members, left the DPJ on Monday and signed up, boosting its Diet members to the required five...

According to the Chugoku Shimbun, Kawamura filed the registration materials for full national party status with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Elections Commission. The TMG Elections Commission, after looking over the materials and seeing nothing out of order, accepted them. The TMG Elections Commission then forwarded to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) notice of its having accepted the application. The Ministry, which is in charge of the disbursal of public election funds to parties based upon the number of Diet members in a party, acknowledged the TMG Elections Commission's having accepted the registration material (Link- J)

Presumably included in the packet of documents Kawamura filed with the TMG Elections Commission were affidavits from the five members of the Diet that they are not members of any other party -- i.e., they will not be double dipping from public funds. House of Representatives members Kumada Atsushi (Osaka District #1) and Mizuno Tomohiko (South Kanto Proportional) did hand in their resignations to DPJ leaders on Monday. Presumably, the affidavits Kumada and Mizuno submitted swear that each is no longer a member of the DPJ.

Kawamura's, Kumada's and Mizuno's document submissions are in the clear, right? The TMG's Elections Commission accepted the applications, did it not? The MIC acknowledged the Elections Commission's findings, so everything is cool, right?

Interestingly enough, the answer is probably "No." Kawamura, Kumada and Mizuno could be on their way to paying hefty fines or even doing jail time for fraud.

Despite its held-together-by-safety-pins image, the DPJ is the Hotel California: You can check out any time you like / But you can never leave. Oh sure, you can leave, but if and only if the relevant party central bureau accepts your resignation. The stipulation is in the DPJ By-laws, under the section marked, "Separating From The Party."

So what happens if the relevant central bureau does not accept your resignation? Funny thing, if you are worth more to the DPJ dead than alive, then the party can keep you dead.

Remember Sugimoto Kazumi? You do not? Well, here is a reminder (Link). Oh right, that guy, the Kennedy School of Government Masters degree holder who on October 5 declared his intent to defect from the DPJ to the Your Party. It was only on October 29 (Monday) that the party board of directors (yakuinkai) announced that they would be sending to the executive council (jonnin kanjikai) their recommendation that Sugimoto be expelled rather than be allowed to resign. Determining that having Sugimoto around was more trouble than his continued dangling in the wind was worth, the executive council took only a few minutes on Tuesday to approve the expulsion recommendation of the board of directors. The executive council's decision was transmitted to the DPJ-Club of Independents-People's New Party caucus, which filed notice of Sugimoto's no longer being a DPJ member with the Office of the House of Representatives. Having received notification that Sugimoto had been sprung, the Your Party caucus registered Sugimoto as one of its own. (Link - J)

From submission of resignation letter to actual registration as a member of new party: 25 days.

Now in the case of Kumada and Mizuno, members of the DPJ directorate decided on October 30 that they will not accept the pair's resignation letters. House of Councillors Secretary-General Ichikawa Yasuo, famous for making the most stupid utterance ever by a Defense Minister (a monumental achievement that) but seemingly a wily politician, wanly mused, "I have this sense that you cannot say that there will be a disposition [of Kumada's and Mizuno's resignations] during the current Diet term."

One indication of how determined the DPJ directorate is to leave Kumada and Mizuno hanging is its decision to not even try to recover from Kumada the 3 million in cash he just received from the party -- all first and second-termers having just received 3 million as an enticement to keep them from bolting for the exits. (Link - J)

Now here is where things start getting really weird.

MIC has acknowledged the TMG Election Commission's determination that Genzei Nippon's application for full-fledged party status is valid. However, MIC will not dispense public funds to Genzei Nippon unless MIC receives from the Office of the House of Representatives and the Office of the House of Councillors a comprehensive list of the members of the party (Link -J). Since the DPJ can out of pure malice postpone a decision on the resignations of Kumada and Mizuno forever (in Kumada's case, the party will at worst wait until twelve days before the House of Representatives' election, this so that the party can register a new candidate to run in Kumada's constituency) the political party Genzei Nippon will exist at MIC but not exist in the respective Offices of the Diet...and since MIC will not receive from the respective Offices the necessary documents regarding Kumada's and Mizuno's membership in a party called Genzei Nippon, MIC will not be able to disburse public election funds to Genzei Nippon, a party that by its own records, is eligible for public funds.

However, the twists do not stop there. Since Kumada and Mizuno presumably submitted to the TMG Elections Commission signed affidavits swearing that they are no longer members of the DPJ, the DPJ could either file lawsuits (unlikely, as lawsuits take months if not years to resolve themselves) or police complaints claiming the pair have filed false documents. If the DPJ is in a particularly foul mood at Kawamura, a former party member, for poaching Kumada and Mizuno, it can file a complaint against Kawamura as well, for knowingly submitting false affidavits as a part of his proto-party's application to the TMG Elections Commission.

Kumada and Mizuno, who are both dumber than a sack of hammers...

[You want proof? Take a visit to Kumada's profile page from his official website (Link). Yes, this is the curriculum vitae of a 41 year-old male, graduate of Kyoto University's Faculty of Law, former employee of Mitsubishi Electric and district seat holder in the House of Representatives.

As for Mizuno, nominally a proportional seat holder from the South Kanto Bloc but in reality the Diet Member for Dentistry, this is his second attempted defection to Genzei Nippon. In early September he was outed as one of the Diet members Kawamura was wooing to join to his movement. Kawamura even scheduled a press conference to announce Mizuno's departure from the DPJ. Mizuno, however, lost his nerve and called off the announcement. (Link - J)]

...are probably not aware of how much trouble they are in. Kawamura might be aware of just how perilous his submission of documents was. He is, however, nuttier than a pecan pie (Recall that in February he told a delegation of visitors from Nagoya's sister city of Nanjing that the Nanjing Massacre was not as bad as they say) and reckless enough to not care.

Ichikawa's musing about the DPJ deferring action after the end of the Diet session is likely a portent of a vicious comeuppance for the the pair, who had the temerity (or thanks to a generous bribe, an obligation) to submit their resignations on the morning of the opening of the Extraordinary Session, when their acts would cast the greatest shadow possible on Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko. The end of the Diet session means the end of Kumada's and Mizuno's immunity from prosecution (Constitution of Japan, Article 50).

Later - A section of this text has been edited for clarity and accuracy.


Anonymous said...

1)Interesting take - who knew there were such machinations behind all of this?
2)I believe you mean Ichikawa Yasuo 一川 保夫

MTC said...

Anonymous -

Thank you for catching the mistake as regards Ichikawa. I have made the necessary correction.