Monday saw the release of the results latest Kyodo News poll, conducted on June on 1-2. The numbers reflect the political atmosphere after Japan Restoration Party co-leader Hashimoto Toru's appearance at the Foreign Correspondents' Club but before the weekend talk shows analyzing and passing judgment on said appearance. The numbers in parentheses are the numbers from May 18-19, five days after Hashimoto's disastrous musings about military life and sexuality:
Which party do you support?
LDP 48.1 (48.5)
DPJ 7.0 (5.9)
JRA 4.2 (4.8)
New Komeito 5.2 (3.2)
Your Party 3.6 (4.4)
JCP 2.0 (2.8)
SDP 0.8 (0.5)
People's Life Party 0.5 (0.4)
Green Breeze 0.1 (0.9)
Other political parties, groups 0.2 (0.3)
None of the above 28.3 (28.3)
More important: Which party are you likely to vote for in the House of Councillors proportional vote?
LDP 44.6 (44.4)
DPJ 7.9 (6.8)
JRA 4.5 (5.7)
New Komeito 6.4 (4.4)
Your Party 4.0 (5.2)
JCP 2.6 (3.1)
SDP 0.8 (0.5)
People's Life Party 0.3 (0.3)
Green Breeze 0.1 (0.8)
Other political parties, groups 0.5 (0.4)
D/K+N/A 28.3 (28.4)
- Time for members of the opposition to start looking for a new job
It is June 4. The Diet session ends on June 26. Prime Minister Abe has no interest in extending the Diet session. This means an election on July 21 (Link - J ). Forty-five percent of the electorate wants to vote for the LDP. The electoral system is designed to perpetuate LDP rule in the single-seat districts and LDP equality in the multi-seat districts even when the LDP is deeply unpopular. The proportional seat distribution is weighted in favor of big parties.
Why are members of the opposition absenting themselves from House of Councillors plenary sessions in order to go out and campaign, earning a tut-tutting from the news media in response? (Link - J)
A will to fight with every gram of one's strength is laudable. However, there comes a point where one should just shrug one's shoulders, finish up what one has been doing (for SIX YEARS - Ed.) and start calling up old friends.
- The damage is done for the JRA
While Hashimoto's comments have severely injured the Japan Restoration Association, the bleeding from the wounds he inflicted has largely stopped. Hashimoto's mendacious and wily defense at the FCCJ press conference may indeed win him and his party a few percentage points of support over the next few weeks.
That said, the JRA has little future as an institution for change. It will be a micro-party in the House of Councillors, meaning that it will have little attraction as a coalition partner for the LDP. In the House of Representatives, its members will be the face of revisionist thuggery, making it a wonderful foil for the LDP, which will appear sane by comparison.
- "Support" clearly does not mean what I thought it means
48.1% of the respondents support the LDP. 44.6% say they will vote for the party in the House of Councillors election. This means 3.5% of the population believes it can go up to an LDP Senator and say, "You know, I support you -- but I sure as heck won't vote for you."
- Where will you go Ozawa Ichiro?
The People's Life Party (Seikatsu no to) leader Ozawa Ichiro called a press conference yesterday, unveiling his party's manifesto for the July election. The news networks covered the announcement as if it were an actual event. (Link -J)
The PLP has six of its eight House of Councillors seats up for reelection. If the party holds onto a single seat, Ozawa should throw a celebratory bash.
One seat will leave Ozawa with three Senators and six Representatives under his authority.
He has been down before -- but never like this.
What a price he (and the country) has paid for his hubris in the fall and winter of 2009-10.
* * *
The really interesting number in the Kyodo poll? Support or not for revision of Article 96, the article mandating a two-thirds majority of all members of both Houses of the Diet for any proposed changes to the Constitution.
Do you agree with a loosening of the requirement for a two-thirds majority to only a simple majority in both Houses of the Diet?
Yes 37.2 (41.5)You read that right. 48.1% of the respondents said they are supporters of the LDP and 44.6% said they are ready to vote for the party in July. However, only 37.2% of the respondents were in favor of lowering the bar in order to facilitate (some would say eliminate all restraint on) constitutional revision.
No 51.6 (48.6)
Don’t know/Can’t say 11.2 (9.9)
The LDP cannot even get all of its own (self-identified) supporters in line to eliminate the constitution's key bulwark against mob rule. As the shift in the numbers since mid-May indicates, public opinion seems to be moving in favor of retaining Article 96 as is. Any wonder why the talk of revising Article 96 and/or the Constitution has died down to a whisper since Abe Shinzo's coy little little bit of number play* on his ceremonial Yomiuri Giants uniform on May 5 (above image)?
* Abe Shinzo is Japan's 96th prime minister. His donning of a uniform with the number 96 on it could have been innocent. However, the PM did nothing to discourage speculation he was broadcasting a message of strong support for revision of Article 96.
Original image courtesy: China.org