Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shaking the House

Whole lot of shakin' going on, round about midnight.

Courtesy: Japan Meteorological Agency

A reminder that Tokyo's time will come.

The political earthquake this morning is a sudden coordinated spate of public musings by Liberal Democratic Party power brokers about an election either before or after New Years. According to an article in the Nihon Keizai Shinbun, Election Measures Chairman Koga Makoto and Deputy Election Measures Chairman Suga Yoshihide (not a current bio) both floated trial balloons about a House of Representatives election this fall.

Now if this had been just one of the two elections officers, the other members of the central core leadership of the LDP could just shrug off the suggestion of the need for an election in either December or January as"X-san is just blowing off steam." However, with Koga and his deputy both offering the same message in speaking engagements at opposite ends of the central axis of the country (Koga spoke in Tokyo, Suga in Fukuoka) the other LDP leaders are faced with nearly a fait accompli.

In the paper's view, the Koga-Suga maneuver is somehow connected to the desire of the New Komeitō leadership to not have its representatives vote yet again on a renewal of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law. The New Komeitō's women's and youth arms have been unhappy, reportedly, at the party's support for a policy with only the vaguest connection to the defense of Japan, one which sullies the mother organization Sōka Gakkai's reputation as a force for peace.

This is probably a bit of a stretch. With the certainty that the current ruling coalition will lose its two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives, the LDP's relations with its coalition partner are more likely to be of the "Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma'am" variety (all apologies to those of tender sensibitilities and to David Bowie) than of the deferential and caring variety.

The LDP allied itself with the New Komeitō in order to consolidate a majority in the House of Representatives - when the coalition also controlled the House of Councillors. Control of the House of Councillors has since passed to the Democratic Party of Japan, possibly for another five years.

It will almost certainly be pointless for the LDP to continue its alliance with New Komeitō post-election. In the most likely scenario, the LDP will gratefully accept the get-out-the-vote efforts of the New Komeitō machine over the frenetic, passionate weeks of the campaign -- whenever it may take place -- but on the morning after the big night, the New Komeitō leaders will awaken to find the love nest empty, with a note on the counter explaining how the two sides had grown apart.

What I am saying is that when you are set to leave 'em, you generally do not arrange your schedule to fit their plans.

Later - Weirdness. Reuters has one take on the news in its English version and a very different one in its Japanese version.


Jan Moren said...

The reason may be the truth, actually. New Komeito might be facing a crisis of their own, with the support of a law that is very impopular among its own members. The LDP may simply have been told that there will not be any supporting votes forthcoming from the New Komeito lawmakers this time around. Rather than being forced into an election by events out of its control, the LDP leadership may simply prefer to be the ones setting the timetable and terms of the election in order to minimise the damage.

Question is, what will New Komeito do? Are their political morals roomy enough to jump ship and support DPJ if that is what it would take to stay in the shadow of power? Or will they find a political backbone and wither away gracefully?

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that the LDP is likely to kiss the Komei goodbye? With its own organization vote in some disarray, the Komei make up a big block of votes for the LDP in the single seats I would have thought. Losing that will mean the end of the road for many candidates. Also, partnering with the LDP means that the Komei can't join up with the DPJ, which is also a good outcome for them. Just imagine how different things would look if it wasn't just losing votes for the LDP, but *giving* votes to the DPJ.

Finally, wasn't the Komei originally signed up under Obuchi in order to keep a majority in the Upper House at the time, which the LDP would have lost without it. The old LP being the meat in the sandwich of course.