Friday, February 29, 2008

Drawing The Short Straw

"Yes, I'm tired. No, I don't give a damn anymore. Well, maybe I do. Why do you ask?"

Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo struggles to stay awake
while waiting for a House of Representatives
Budget Committee session to resume
February 28, 2008

Image courtesy: Tokyo Shimbun

Later - The House of Representatives will be passing the budget and ancillary legislation today, one day later than House of Representatives Parliamentary Affairs Chairman Ōshima Tadamori's goal of February 28.

Since there is no agreement about any adjustment of the temporary gasoline levy or the 10 year, 59 trillion yen mid-term road construction plan, the bills now go the House of Councillors as crafted by the anachronistic bits of the ruling coalition.

The opposition coalition will tear the legislation to pieces, then leave it to die of exposure.

The budget will automatically go into effect in 30 days (Constitution of Japan, Article 60) just slipping under the wire for the April 1 start of the new fiscal year.

* * *

The Fukuda Cabinet and the four top LDP leadership posts are chock-a-block with faction leaders. These were the guys (and yes they are all guys) who were purported to have the juice within the party. They would twist arms and wring necks to get things done. As moderates, at least more moderate than the Abe Shinzō-Nakagawa Shōichi-Aso Tarō crowd, the current crop of ministers and party executives were supposed to be able to work with members of the Democratic Party of Japan to move legislation throught the Diet.

None of the above has happened. The ruling coalition is reduced to carrying out the country's business via the autopilot mechanisms built into the Constitution.

The LDP and Kōmeitō have run out of gas.

Do they know it?


Jan Moren said...

Komeito is, I suspect, a generational phenomenon to some extent. They are viable as a political party only to the extent that their mother organization brings in members, and they do not seem to be able to bring in enough new young members to account for the older members dying off.

What worries me with LDP is that when the hard-right takes over for real (something that I now think is inevitable at some point), that they will not marginalize the party, but manage to bring most of their support - and thus the country - along with them. The best safety against it is a viable alternative (in the form of DPJ I guess), but that isn't the most reliable of organizations either, and would they falter due to some major scandal or similar then that might give the hardliners enough of an opening.

MTC said...

Herr Morén -

I am not sure about the characterization of the Kōmeitō as generational phenomenon--though I have speculated in this blog about the possible generational origins of the Komeito's failure to get out the vote in July 2007.

I would agree to an intermediate position: that the Soka Gakkai was a coping mechanism for those caught up in the sudden shift of population from the countryside to the cities and the replacement of peasant life with behaviors consistent with employment in factories, offices or small retail outlets. This adjustment, having been completed 30 years ago, no longer pushes individuals to seek the psychological and economic benefits of SG membership.

The Kōmeitō should probably be seen as a significant regional player. As a resident of Osaka you know better than me, but the indications are that many of the votes allowing Hashimoto Toru to thump his opponents in the governor's race came from Kōmeitō supporters.

Jun Okumura said...

Mr. Ōshima probably forgot that it was leap year.