Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hatoyama and Ozawa Are Leaving The Stage

A pair of random questions and fragmentary answers.

Why is Kan Naoto the prohibitive favorite to replace Hatoyama?

Kan is the only senior member of the Democratic Party of Japan seen as being on a par with Ozawa Ichiro and Hatoyama Yukio. Kan and Hatoyama founded the party in 1996 and ran it for a time as co-leaders. He succeeded Hatoyama as sole party leader in 2002, serving in the post until May 2004. Following the inception of the wreckage of Ozawa Ichiro's Liberal Party in 2003, Kan, Hatoyama and Ozawa were seen as the "troika" running the party jointly. After stepping down from the position of party leader due to a very minor issue, a gap of a few months in his record of contributing to the national pension scheme, Kan has kept a much lower profile than his fellow troika members.

His recent relative detachment from the grubbier corners of the world of politics is all to his advantage now as the party and the country search for political smarts and party authority unblemished by a strong association with either the helpless Hatoyama and the fearsome Ozawa.

Will Hatoyama's and Ozawa's resignations help the DPJ in the House of Councillors election?

A definite yes. From the responses given to pollsters, it is clear that the populace is disappointed by Hatoyama and mistrusful of Ozawa. Disappointment in the Cabinet and the party since the inauguration of the Hatoyama government should have resulted in great slices of the citizenry rushing back to familiar embraces of the Liberal Democratic Party. However the opinion polls show the sections populace as either tentatively supporting the completely unknown default reformist Your Party or opting out of supporting any particular party at all.

With the problematic Hatoyama and Ozawa no longer in charge of the government and the DPJ, the 50% of voters who consider themselvers to be non-aligned should return to their voting stance of 2009: willing to entrust the reins of government to a new, non-LDP political force.


Dan Slater said...

You are right Michael (departure of Oz, HY will help DPJ's electoral prospects) - but it also depends on the popularity of the new DPJ PM. Also, if Ozawa manages to elect a stooge to his powerful post of Sec-Gen of the Party, that will be a negative among voters.

Dan Slater said...

You have to shake your head over this comment from the JPMorgan currency strategist in his reaction today:"...According to Japanese media (NHK, Nikkei), Japan's prime minister Hatoyama told DPJ officials that he will resign his post. It is not that surprising considering the recent mess in Japanese politics. JPY declined about 0.4% against USD on the news.

Needless to say, Hatoyama's resignation should not have much impact on the market for both JPY and the Nikkei. In this county, politics do not have significant impact on the economy, therefore, they do not have meaningful impact on the market..."

Anybody agree with that?

MTC said...

Mr. Slater -

Correct me if I am wrong, but for the DPJ the Secretary-General position has not been an elected post. The Party Leader appoints the Secretary-General. Traditionally, the winners in party leadership contests are expected to name their defeated main rival to the Secretary-General post, this in order to emphasize a message of overall party unity. Hatoyama's appointment of Ozawa last year was a deviation from the norm.

MTC said...

Mr. Slater -

The comment from the analyst is clearly wrong -- but his remarks may be redacted or taken out of context.

Anonymous said...

I still don't see Kan as the necessary nominee, especially if Ozawa is truly stepping away from the DPJ -- for those who have forgotten, Okada Katsuya was the other candidate for the DPJ party leader election last March. He's an even cleaner candidate than Kan is.

MTC said...

Anonymous -

Okada Katsuya may consider challenging Kan Naoto for the leadership of the party. However, he is far more likely to stand aside and let a brand new candidate -- I would guess Haraguchi Kazuhiro -- play the role of brash young'un taking on the Establishment. Okada seems to enjoy being Foreign Minister. Given the DPJ's need for stability in the runup to the election, he would be almost be reappointed to his current post by Kan -- if he does not give Kan any grief in the interim.

Nejibana said...

I thought Haraguchi was more usually associated as one of those closer to Ozawa. While Haraguchi's candidature might be pitched as a campaign against the DPJ establishment, wouldn't it be overshadowed by interpretations that this is another way for Ozawa to control the government and party from behind the scenes?