Friday, March 19, 2010

The Ubukata Dump

On Ubukata Yukio's home page, he still lists himself as a Deputy Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Japan.

He is, however, no longer a holder of that title.

Ubukata had made a splash last month, joining with a group of DPJ legislators in demanding the revival of a intra-party policy research body to replace the abolished Policy Research Council. As a member of the party holding a fairly central post, Ubukata really did not have a reason to demand a voice in party policy making affairs. Nevertheless he went along with a number of mid-career party members who felt powerless the current power structure left too many powerless to affect party decisions.

For reasons that may become clearer over the next few hours, Ubukata has gone rogue. In television appearance after television appearance, he denounced the centralization of power under DPJ Secretary-General Ozawa Ichiro and asked pointed questions why Ozawa has not been forced to explain in excruciating detail the story behind the arrest of three of his former political secretaries.

Unlike the Liberal Democratic Party, whose leadership has remained inert in the face of internal criticism of the party leadership and numerous defections, the DPJ apparatus mobilized with brutal efficiency and speed. The DPJ's Standing Officers Council met yesterday and stripped Ubakata of his party post.

What will be of interest is how this crushing of an admittedly out-of-order critic will play in the media and the public eye. Ubukata has portrayed himself as a paladin of the true DPJ, counter to the apostate vote-grubbing, power-grabbing opaque leadership of Ozawa. It is possible the public, which has an overwhelming dislike for Ozawa's continued tenure as DPJ Secretary-General, will applaud Ubukata's self-immolation as a heroic act of resistance. They also just might see it as merely Pyrrhic bonfire of vanity... or a minor key repeat performance of Hatoyama Kunio's defection from the LDP, minus, of course, all the money that Kunio has to spend to console himself whilst he wanders in the political wilderness.

Of course, with Edano Yukio, the State Minister for Administrative Reform and former chairman of the DPJ Policy Research Council reportedly weighing into the fray, the whole mess is getting a lot more interesting...

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