Monday, September 20, 2010

Lightning Strikes Twice

One has to wonder at the luck of Kan Naoto.

He wins the prime ministership and support for his Cabinet soars, twice, each time after having slain the same dragon -- Ozawa Ichiro and his purported political dark arts.

I am not sure that Kan can count on a third rise and defeat of the Ozawa Menace as a means of bolstering his Cabinet's standing with the public. As a consequence he and his reshuffled Cabinet will have to start piling up accomplishments, not just be caught up in the midst of elections, as the previous incarnation of the Cabinet was for the entire three months of its existence.

The intervention in the currency markets was a good start. May there be more decisive and even pigheaded actions ahead...though pigheadedness might not be the wisest course of action in the burgeoning fishing boat captain crisis.

Funny, the last time Kan faced a serious problem where his hands were needed to steady the tiller (a problem he created when he mentioned the possibility of having to raise the consumption tax to rebalance Japan's fiscal situation) he unfortunately could not stick around because he had to jet off to Canada for the G8/G20 meetings -- creating a vacuum in Tokyo, allowing the crisis to spiral out of control.

This time around Kan is scheduled to fly to UN General Assembly only days after naming a new Cabinet, with China suddenly pushing its foot to the floor, precipitating a rapid decline in the Japan-China relationship.

Let us hope that the Chinese know what they are doing -- because with the PM, his entourage and the foreign policy team all at the UN, there will be nobody of consequence comfortably manning the telephones in Nagata-cho and Kasumigaseki.

In case the Chinese do not know what they are doing, let us hope that things work themselves out without direct intervention by anyone -- or that when Kan meets his Chinese counterparts in New York, they cut a serious/devious deal. For an interesting discussion of what the contours of a deal could look like, go to the dialogue Okumura Jun is having with Sun Bin over at Global Talk 21.

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