Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Everybody in the Pool!

You are the fantastically popular young mayor of a country's third largest city. You are widely credited with conjuring up an act of fiscal magic: you put the city back on a firm financial footing whilst improving the quality of service provided the residents. You are in your second term, basking in the glory of the city's celebration of the 150th anniversary of its opening to the outside world. What do you do?

You resign.

Nakada Hiroshi, the man with the impossible resume - seriously when the heck did the man ever sleep? -- has offered his resignation as mayor of Yokohama. Rather than serve out the last few months of his term, he is asking the city council to schedule an election for his replacement to coincide with the House of Representatives election on August 30. Holding the two elections simultaneously, he reasons, will save the city money and will guarantee a high degree of voter turnout for the mayoral election, far higher than if the election were held at the end of his term in the spring.

What a civic minded fellow! I mean really, I'm flummoxed. I cannot say the least bad thing about him.

Nakada is not going to run in the House of Representatives election, as some guessed he might (Why should he? He has already served three term in the Diet). Instead he is talking about plans to build an organization extending the kinds of reform he managed to enact in Yokohama to the prefectures and the national government.

When an electoral shoo-in like Nakada takes a leap like this into the unknown, it is just one more indication that postwar system is on the verge of final, precipitous collapse. Persons of vision, ambition and energy are jostling for position in a new, still amorphous order, whilst members of the ancien regime spout nonsense about their conspicuous lack of achievements.

Everyone but everyone is jumping in the pool, making waves, splashing about.

It is going to be a fun summer.


Jan Moren said...

Perhaps a federated system with more power delegated to the regions is not actually impossible? Many of these next-generation people, like our bouncy governor Hashimoto, are pushing for it. It is a neat solution in a way: the central government and bureaucracy is failing the country, so make sure they have less of a say in the running of it.

Christopher said...

Not that this really makes a difference to the substance of the original post, but...

When you said "third largest city" I thought you were referring to Nagoya at first. I understand Nagoya is not technically the third largest city, but if you are being precise about it, isn't Yokohama the largest? Even if you were to put the 23 wards of Tokyo together, that still puts Yokohama in second place. How do you get third largest?

Jan Moren said...

According to Wikipedia, Yokohama-shi has 3,600,000 people, followed by Osaka-shi with 2,600,000 and Nagoya with 2,200,000.

So Yokohama would indeed be first or second city, depending on whether you count Tokyo as a city (but then you should probably count greater Osaka as a city as well, making it the second after Tokyo). Osaka would be second or third, and Nagoya third or fourth.

Anonymous said...

Here's a nasty comment about wonder boy.
Wasn't he the one who gave the jumin-hyo to Tama-chan and a slap in the face to all (some?) (a few?) (one or two?) long-term residents of foreign but not pinniped extraction?

REM said...

Given the surface parallels here, I can't help but think of the contrast with a certain American governor...

MTC said...

Dear REM -

Confess I must that I had not even thought of the connection. But you are right: Nakada Hiroshi is almost -- but not quite -- entirely unlike former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.