The trade deficit in July, however, is likely to be even more stunning. With utilities and independent power producers possibly trying to stock up before the worst days of summer, the deficit for just the first half of July was a colossal 368 billion yen. Given unceasing heat waves this blessed land has experience over the second half of this month, it would not surprise if the deficit in July is greater than one quarter of the deficit over the first half of the year. (J)
Headlines regarding a massive importation and burning of fossil fuels for electric power generation will certain provide grist for the mills of those who wish to disparage the anti-nuclear movement. It will be hard to argue for a cessation of the use of nuclear power generation, as the Green Party, established on Saturday, has demanded (J) in this atmosphere. In light of Japan's burgeoning LNG addiction, absolutism about nuclear power is likely to garner the mockery of the news media, the Noda government and the industrial establishment.
The Green Party (Midori no to -- not to be confused with Midori no kaze, the four woman, anti-nuclear, anti-TPP caucus in the House of Councillors) hopes to run district and party list candidates in next summer's House of Councillors election. As for the next House of Representatives election, whenever it is held, the Greens hope to present a list of candidates for the proportional election, while possibly lending support to the candidates of existing and like-thinking parties in the districts.
The existence of a third anti-nuclear party in the proportional voting is bad, bad news for both the SDP and LF. The SDP could conceivably fall beneath the five Diet-member limit for a party eligible for public elections funds. With Green support, however, some of the SDP members fighting for district seats might gain an edge.
Unlike the SDP, the LF has enough viable candidates in the district seats that the Green Party's participation in a House of Representatives election does not pose an existential threat. Nevertheless the LF, with its opportunistic rather than ideological stance against nuclear power, has to worry about a Green Party's whittling votes in the proportional race. The LF's sizable proportional seat contingent in the House of Representatives could face annihilation.
The Greens set out with significant barriers to their affecting policies in the way the party wishes. They will have a hard time fighting an image of anti-nuclear fanaticism. They will also splinter the anti-nuclear movement, paradoxically serving the interests of the moderately-pro-nuclear ruling Democratic Party and the strongly pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party.
By the time Hashimoto Toru's Osaka Ishin no kai enters the ring, assuming Hashimoto Toru emerges from his current funk (J) and assuming Hashimoto still wishes to take on national politics after the parties in the Diet went on their knees yesterday, promising to transform Osaka Prefecture into a Metropolitan District by the end of August (J) -- and given Hashimoto's pragmatic "opposed but oh well we need it right now" approach to nuclear power --the importance of the Greens to national politics will become somewhat clearer.
In Sunday's Yamaguchi Prefecture gubernatorial election, Hashimoto's anti-nuclear advisor Iida
Iida's second-place finish and receipt of over a third of the vote was particularly impressive given he had only been in the race for a month; had no formal organization when he started; was practically a carpet bagger (he has not lived in the prefecture for 35 years); Yamaguchi is absolutely dominated by the LDP; and a former DPJ member was one of the other three candidates running.
Now interpreting the results as indicative of a strong anti-nuclear allergy, even the most conservative and public works-dependent of prefectures, might be premature. Nearly 50% of the public nationwide allies itself with no particular political party, meaning that a powerful anti-all established parties feeling already exists in the electorate. Both the LDP-New Komeito-back candidate and the former DPJ member candidates could have also been victims of an anti-MV-22 Osprey backlash, the controversial aircraft having been deployed last week to the U.S. Marine Corps base in Iwakuni.
The high percentage of the total vote Iida received may have also been aided by the low overall voter turnout. Gubernatorial elections have of late had notoriously low turnouts. Sunday's contest
Just what percentage of votes a protest candidate like Iida would win in a national contest, when participation numbers are much higher, is at best unclear.
So what will be the color of the revolution, or at least this iteration of it?
Later - Here is the Nihon Keizai Shimbun report on the preliminary July first half trade figures making the same guess I did above. (J - WARNING - link rot sets in fast)
Much later - Many thanks to reader MP for his alert reading of this post.