Saturday, November 01, 2014

Very Kind Of Them #29

Friday's announcements by the Bank of Japan and the Government Pension Investment Fund have dispelled any rumors that Kuroda Haruhiko and Abe Shinzo are lacking in chutzpah. The sudden moves certainly provides incentives for members of the opposition to take a good look during the long three-day weekend at a strategy to pound away on the dodgy accounts books of Liberal Democratic Party members in next Tuesday's House of Councillors Budget Committee session, rather than substantive issues.

However, scandal mongering has been a winner for the opposition in the past. They may just go ahead and bang away at LDP Diet members for

1) their failure to have real accountants check their accounts and for

2) their lack of familiarity with the very complex election regulations they themselves wrote.

The bold declarations of the AbeKuroda Komplex, however, have definitely changed the conversation in the street. Last week, the discussion was about delay, distraction and decay, as I suggeest to Elaine Kurtenbach, writing for the AP:

News of possible election law and political funding violations forced the resignations last week of Abe's justice and trade ministers, both among the five women who had just taken office in the early September Cabinet reshuffle that showcased Abe's commitment to stronger roles for women in leadership.

"It's a serious setback. So much of the Abe Cabinet's shine was due to its aura of invincibility and inevitability," said Michael Cucek, a Tokyo-based analyst and fellow at Temple University Japan.

Troubles over campaign funds and related issues have long contributed to Japan's famous "revolving door" politics. Abe's first term as prime minister, in 2006-2007, ended when he was driven from office by scandals and health problems after just a year.

Abe got a rare second chance when his Liberal Democrats regained power from the Democratic Party in December 2012. Since then, the LDP's coalition with the Buddhist-affiliated Komeito, or Clean Government Party, has established majorities in both houses of the parliament.

This time around, Abe has cultivated a confident, relaxed style of leadership, repeatedly declaring "Japan is back!" while his chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga endeavors to keep their gaffe-prone allies more or less in line.

"Until this crisis it looked pretty certain he was just going to cruise," Cucek said. "Now that politics as usual has returned we could see the same sort of decay that we've seen in the past," he said.


By Tuesday, however, the conversation may no longer about a few million yen's worth of missing fund report entries or S&M bar tabs. When you start talking about expanding BOJ bond purchases by an addition 10 trillion yen annually, you are talking real money -- and that gets the people's attention.

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