Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Pondering Yosano's Moves

"Rely on your own powers. If you can't see the point of your opponent's move, assume there isn't any."

From the time I first read this rule of playing chess, one of 64 basic rules proposed by the American chess master Bruce Pandolfini , I have always thought it the one least applicable to daily life. It seems reasonable to assume you can see everything there is to see on an 8X8 board. However, hacking through the thickets of quotidian mendacity and obfuscation with the razor of "if I cannot make sense of it, it must not make sense" seems a direct path to a misapprehended reality.

The phrase --"If you can't see the point of your opponent's move, assume there isn't any" -- has been echoing in my head these past few days. I have been trying to make sense of Yosano Kaoru's declaration of his intent to leave the Liberal Democratic Party in order to co-found a new party with Hiranuma Takeo. What could be the point of this spontaneous vernal defection? Yosano previously turned down an opportunity to leave the party at the invitation of Hatoyama Kunio, who has more than enough money in his pockets to bankroll anything the pair might want to achieve. There is already a micro-party in the Diet (the Your Party) devoted to fighting for of government fiscal discipline -- so a Yosano liberated from the LDP has nothing to offer the public on that score. On the other side of the ledger sidling up to Hiranuma, one of the giants of historical revisionist camp (a not surprising stance, considering he is the adopted son of this guy), means that from the git-go, the new party has to give up any hope of pretending to be the torch bearer of prudent, business-centric conservatism. Yosano did not even have five Diet members lined up and ready to go, the bare minimum one needs to receive state election campaign funding.

So, no identifiable ideological stance, no money and an insufficient handful of uninspiring old faces. Over at Twisting Flowers, the erudite Ethan Chua has been similarly flummoxed.

After several days of staring, the best explanation I can come up with is that Yosano wants to close out his career as his own man. Sick of being beholden to the LDP, he will present himself as a candidate for one of the ten Tokyo Metropolitan House of Councillors district seats, five of which are up for election in July. Too physically weak to run as an independent, he is drafting a sympathetic bunch of ageing LDP war horses (or former LDP war horses) in order to

1) get the public to pay for his last campaign and

2) have a backstop of winning a seat through the proportional party list, if his attempt to win a district seat fails.

I am just guessing here; I have no proof that this whole brouhaha is meant only to win good old Kaoru a seat from which he can rail at the various mediocrities one sees occupying otherwise valuable space in the political realm. I refuse, however, to believe Yosano Kaoru would ever make a pointless move. Improbable, yes, but not pointless.

Later - Sigma1 has made an excellent point in a comments: having Hiranuma as the co-leader will likely entice right wing voters into supporting the new micro-party, with a consequent further erosion of the support base of the LDP.

Later still - This post has been edited for greater clarity and diction.


Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of flummoxed. I was going to start thinking about how this affected the electoral speculations I had put forth - and I really think all I would need do is put a bracket with this party's eventual name next to the number of seats I expect the LDP to end up with.

If Masuzoe does not leave in the next couple of weeks, then really the LDP is his to do what he pleases with come next July - in fact, perhaps Yosano's move will only ensure that the LDP will under perform come next election - by drawing out the "true" conservatives he may enable not only for Masuzoe to inherit the party but completely rebrand it.

Adamu said...

I mostly agree with you, but unlike chess where people can become hopelessly lost and start flailing, in daily life most people have to assume what they're doing is a good idea. In other words, Yosano must at least *think* he knows what he's doing.

On TV last night, Yosano definitely seemed a little short on compelling answers for why he's making this move, except when it came to upper house strategy.

In his mind, he might be hoping for Yo-mentum to deliver his party enough seats to deny DPJ a majority there. That will force them to stick with coalition partners that can check their worst impulses for at least the next two years. With that accomplished, you have a heroic legacy for Yosano.

Whether that's realistic is another story, but it's at least a semi-coherent scenario.