Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Ozawa and Hatoyama Resignation Charade

When God is trying to punish you
He answers your prayers

National Strategy Minister Sengoku Yoshito is reckoned to be one of the smartest and most reputable members of the Democratic Party of Japan's top leadership. He gets great press. The public also seems to hold him in high regard. He has won the mantle of a bold and steadfast politician the hardest way: by consistently opposing DPJ Secretary-General Ozawa Ichiro's policies and party power mongering.

Sengoku Yoshito is fretting nowadays, however. Not because he and his allies might fail in their long war against Ozawa -- but that they might succeed too soon.

In a bit of irony, Sengoku and his party allies Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Maehara Seiji and Government Revitalization Minister Edano Yukio are finding themselves suddenly having to hit the brakes on their criticism of Ozawa and Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio. They have realized that in the plummeting popularity of the Cabinet, the public's frustration with Ozawa's seeming stonewalling and pseudopopulist pandering and the Prime Minister's failure to achieve even a minimal amount of progress toward the acceptance, by any group or person, of the government's plan for moving MCAS Futenma -- the current DPJ duarchs might just "do the honorable thing" and resign their positions at the end of the month.

Such a double resignation, or a even resignation by Ozawa alone, would throw the anti-Ozawa camp in the DPJ into chaos. The anti-Ozawa forces would have to choose a new secretary-general from amongst themselves -- there is little likelihood they would countenance a replacement of Ozawa with his youthful protege, Internal Affairs and Communications Haraguchi Kazuhiro. They would then have to sell their idea to the party rank-and-file, which is packed with Ozawa loyalists. The new secretary-general would then be responsible, in tandem with current prime minister Hatoyama or his most likely replacement current Finance Minister Kan Naoto, to try lead the DPJ to victory in the summer's House of Councillor's election -- on a ticket comprised almost in its entirely of candidates chosen by Ozawa.

Faced with such a prospect, it should be unsurprising that Sengoku, Maehara, Edano and party curmudgeon Watanabe Kozo suddenly are finding merit in making excuses for Prime Minister Hatoyama's failure to meet his own deadline for "solving Futenma." They have realized that last thing they want is to suddenly receive what they have been asking for all these months -- Hatoyama's and/or Ozawa's exit stage left.

In a delicious bit of irony, the anti-Ozawa forces in the DPJ find themselves in somewhat the same boat as Tanigaki Sadakazu and the Liberal Democratic Party. Tanigaki and the LDP have been taunting the anti-Ozawa forces in the DPJ into taking on Hatoyama and Ozawa. However, the last thing the LDP wants is to face a DPJ led by anyone aside from Hatoyama and Ozawa. Droning on and on about money problems of the DPJ's ruling duarchs and Hatoyama's tendency to debate with himself out loud are the LDP's only election weapons. Should Ozawa and Hatoyama step aside, the LDP's goose would be truly and utterly cooked.

So despite months of muttering and pontification to the contrary, those in the political world opposed to Ozawa's influence finds they have one thing in common -- they need him to refuse to answer their prayers.


wataru said...

It's hard to comprehend how both of these could be true: That the LDP does not want to face a non-Ozawa/Hatoyama administration, and that the DPJ does not want to face the LDP with such an administration.

Anonymous said...

Has this been Ozawa's plan all along - setting himself up to to be "cloistered shogun"? (Yes I know the analogy is mixed!) If those members are indeed Ozawa "loyalists", and Ozawa has stayed in position of control just long enough to select them, but so long as to undermine their electoral chances, then it is a rather brilliant ploy.

That said, I rather suspect they may not get that much of bump with a Kan etc - then again, given the electoral mathematics for the upcoming election, they only have to do a little bit better than current polls suggest to hold their position in the HoC.

Anonymous said...


it makes sense if you assume that both parties are composed of politicians who want to preserve their long-term electoral chances, and that the unpopularity of the Prime Minister overrides every other political difference.

Which is why so many english-language news outlets (the Economist, etc.) report on the premise that the country is becoming ungovernable.