Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (from his seat, as Okada Katsuya, who has the floor, is about to change the subject) - “You just don't understand, do you?"
Okada Katsuya - "I don't understand? I think it is you, Mr. Prime Minister who do not understand. You are rude, using that phrase. Saying,'you don’t understand' is rude. When we look over the official record we will clearly see who is the rude one-- who is the one who does not understand. We will take this up some other time. You are the prime minister of the whole country and all its citizens. I wish to offer to you most humbly my thought that when no one is asking you to speak, your shouting out a heckling expression is not something that as a prime minister you ought to be doing."
After weeks of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide trying to cool apprehensions about the government's plans to force a decision on collective self-defense, with the Dynamic Duo speaking nonchalantly about oh, maybe an agreement sometime in time for the Fall extraordinary Diet session (Link) Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Komura Masahiko came down like a hammer on Sunday, saying he wants a Cabinet Decision on CSD by the end of this Diet session -- i.e., in less than three weeks. (Link -J)
Why the sudden sense of urgency and impatience? Is Komura indicating a change in Abe Cabinet strategy? Or was he just shooting off his mouth -- and knowing the dapper former Foreign Minister Komura's character, this would be unusual -- because he was giving his speech in his and the prime minister's militant homeland of Yamaguchi? (Link)
I would rather think the answer to the question "What's happened?" would be "Wednesday."
Wednesday, May 28, 2014, to be exact.
On that day, last week, in the House of Representatives Budget Committee, Prime Minister Abe tried for the first time to explain or defend his government's plans as regards the recommendations in the "Report of the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security," commonly known as the Yanai Commission Report. (Link)
While great for television -- the above exchange being one of the testier and more entertaining moments -- the session was pretty grim for the government and the LDP. "Train wreck," "fiasco" and "flaming heap of parrot droppings" are just some of the phrases that come to mind regarding Abe's and Cabinet Legislation Bureau chief Yokobatake Yusuke's performances.
The editors of the Mainichi were appalled at the Prime Minister's inability to answer questions in a straightforward way (Link). The editors of The Asahi Shimbun were -- this will surprise no one -- incoherent as to what they were expecting (Link). The editors of The Japan Times were in need of editors (Link). The editors of the Sankei Shimbun, interestingly, urged lawmakers to get a move on with ratifying the government's 15 scenarios wherein CSD should be constitutional, this in order for Japan to be more in line with international norms (Link - J)*. The editors of Pravda-by-the-Palace, a.k.a., the Yomiuri Shimbun, warned -- and I am not making this up -- that the debate on the reinterpretation of the Constitution for the purposes of sanctioning the exercise of the right of collective self-defense could lead to the break up of the Democratic Party of Japan. (Link)
Nobody, in other words, was cheering.
If there is a sense of panic inside the LDP, it is merited. As in the case of the Special Secrets Act, the longer the Yanai proposals getted batted about in committee and in the media, the worse the Abe Cabinet's plans look. It would behoove the government to move, as it did with the secrets act, to cut off debate with some farcical claim that speed is of the essence and further examination of the scenarios would leave Japan unprotected at a time of great clashing of wills in East Asia. (Link)
However, moving as Komura says he wants would provoke an unnecessary collision with the New Komeito, ending with the collapse of the ruling coalition. The sudden chaos would overwhelm the government's all important third try, after two damp squibs, to launch a set of Third Arrow structural reforms -- ones in which international investors and the international news organizations can finally place their faith.
Even for a man of action and turmoil from Choshu like Abe Shinzo, Komura's gambit should seem overwrought and unwise.
* An instance of what Tobias Harris refers to as "a momentary lapse into reason."