Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maehara Seiji Has A Problem

Having enjoyed the better part of valor at Tuesday's Democratic Party of Japan leadership committee meeting, the middle-aged members of the DJP core group seem now ready to test the depths of the moat surrounding party leader Ozawa Ichirō.

Okada Katsuya, the presumed front-runner in any internal party race to replace Ozawa, is remaining circumspect, issuing gnomic utterances like "This is a test to see if the Democratic Party can actually take up the burdens of government" -- a statement that seems to support every possible potential course of action or inaction.

The press is reporting strong support among the middle-aged and younger party cohorts for Okada over Kan Naoto and Hatoyama Yukio, the other, and lesser, members of the DPJ's leadership troika. While not graybeards, Kan and Hatoyama are being portrayed as being too old (and probably too close to Ozawa) to represent a clean break for the party from the mess of the Nishimatsu Construction scandal.

Unable to repress himself is Maehara Seiji, the last, obstreperous draftee into the DPJ central leadership. Like Okada, Maehara is a former DPJ leader. Unlike Okada, who seems to know which party he belongs to, Maehara always seems to be showing up at study groups about serious subjects where the attendees are mostly Liberal Democratic Party members.

He likes to be outside the mainstream.

At an evening gathering on Saturday, Maehara began opening up the way he probably should have done on Tuesday, before his peers and elders in the party. He made a good point about the deletion from the DPJ manifesto of the promise to not accept donations from companies engaged in public works projects, a line that disappeared with Ozawa's accession to the post of party leader.

However, Maehara also came out with this stinker, which the press is running as the first drip of the awaited flood of party member criticism of Ozawa.

"For example, even if legal, receiving that much as a donation is a problem. For me, it is an unthinkable amount of money."
It is that second sentence, beginning with the "For me" (Watashi ni wa) which is unfortunate. Some of us have not forgotten that Maehara has very little credibility on the issue of discerning the difference between what is unthinkable and what is not. Neither has Maehara, as he himself reminded everyone that he lost his party leadership position because of his flogging in the Diet of a painfully bogus email, claiming it was possible evidence of LDP's Secretary General Takebe Tsutomu's accepting bribes.

Maehara-san, please. Sensitivity to the damn peculiar? Not your strong suit.

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