Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Flash...And It's Gone

A little before 7 pm local time, news bulletin flashed across the screen of the TV: three Vice Ministers and 2 Parliamentary Secretaries turned in their resignations to the government. The five men, all close to former Democratic Party of Japan leader Ozawa Ichiro, declared that they had to resign in order to be free to vote for the no confidence motion the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito submitted to the Diet this afternoon.

With this action, the grand experiment of the DPJ, a majority party alternative to the LDP, seems to have come to an end.

DPJ Secretary General Okada Katsuya has threatened to expel from the party any member voting for the no confidence motion. The five now former members of the government have effectively expelled themselves.

From the meetings that have been going on over the last 48 hours, the five almost will certainly not be the last do so. This evening Ozawa met with about 70 of his loyalists, most likely to urge them to vote for the no confidence motion. At the meeting, the extremely ambitious former Transportation Minister Haraguchi Kazuhiro, though he is not formally an Ozawa loyalist, said he would be voting for the no confidence resolution. Hatoyama Yukio, who met with Kan for 2 hours and 10 minutes yesterday, has indicated that he is suppporting the no-confidence motion (proving once again that not only does he lack even the most basic reconciliation skills, he has no compunctions against wasting a sitting prime minister's time).

For the past few days the news media has been explaining that with all members of the Diet present and voting, 81 members of the ruling coalition would have to vote for the no confidence motion for the motion to pass. The Communists, however, have just announced that they will be abstaining from the vote. They may not like the Kan Cabinet but they certainly they despise the LDP. They would rather die than vote for an LDP-sponsored motion.

With the Communists out of the picture, the hurdle for the anti-Kan forces creeps a little higher – to 85 members needed to defect from the ruling coalition for the vote against the Cabinet to pass.

Will Ozawa and his ever faithful basset hound Hatoyama Yukio round up 85 votes from amongst the DPJ members of the House of Representatives to vote for the no confidence motion? Quite possibly. Will Okada have to expel from the party all those who vote for the no confidence motion? Quite definitely.

So even if Ozawa and Hatoyama fall a few votes short of the 85 they need to topple Kan, they seem to have already have already done something far worse to the country: blown the DPJ to pieces.

Oh, it is not official yet -- the five DPJ officials who resigned their posts today may have just misread Ozawa's hints and body language and in so doing done in none but themselves -- but it looks like Ozawa the Destroyer has done it again.


PaxAmericana said...

What has me mystified is why the war against Ozawa occurred in the first place. What was the point? Compromise is the nature of politics, so what is it that made Kan and Ozawa come to loggerheads?

Jan Moren said...

"Compromise is the nature of politics, so what is it that made Kan and Ozawa come to loggerheads?"

Ozawa didn't get to be prime minister, that's what. Everything he does has always ultimately aimed at seeing himself in the PM's office.

Oh well; I can't say I didn't predict this would happen sooner rather than later.

My hope is that the cabinet will have the strength to at least implement the voting district reform, and hopefully enact the suggested pension reforms - the opposition seems to be in broad agreement over the general thrust so it's not impossible.

My worry now is that an unreformed, still intact LDP will have the strength to pick up power and spend another five or ten years doing nothing with Japans worsening societal problems.

Of course, if Ozawa stays true to his nature he'll start another new party and possibly bleed LDP of enough people that they don't have the strength to do anything either.

wataru said...

The analysts at Yomiuri (who have had trouble hiding their glee at this turn of events) suggest that if the DPJ defectors are 30 or fewer,they will be expelled from the party; but if the number is much larger, Kan may have no choice but to resign. It looks like the number will indeed be much larger than 30, but I'm not sure Kan will resign even then. In any case, this is a most depressing turn of events at a time when we need unity, not infighting.

PaxAmericana said...


But many, including those who do not care for him, say that Ozawa likes to have power behind the scenes. Others argue that those around Kan started the attacks, and that Ozawa largely had no choice but to fight back. This is above my paygrade, but a party can't survive if the top three or four in it can't bury the hatchet - no matter what the reason. Perhaps it's Ozawa's fault, but it sure seems like those around Kan had it in for Ozawa.

So my question is if those who fund or otherwise influence Kan and Ozawa were at war, and thus the current state. If Ozawa is sincere in trying to take power from the bureaucrats and give it to politicians, it might explain things better as those with power will fight bitterly to maintain it. Not denying his arrogance or anything; I'm just curious whether others think he is sincere in this.

Jan Moren said...

Ozawa is sincere. I do think he really does want something with politics beyond power for himself, something good. And his abilities are perfectly suited to a background role.

But he has a streak of ambition not well matched to his abilities, and that ambition periodically makes him lose sight of the long-term goals. This is not the first, or even the second, time this has happened with Ozawa, after all. I wrote a post about this here last autumn.

Hugh Ashton said...

I see Ozawa as the LBJ of Japanese politics - the consummate parliamentarian, but unable to play an effective executive role outside the legislature. I don't doubt his potential abilities, but his making and breaking of "opposition" parties and alliances, while consistently stabbing his former allies and colleagues in the back make me as likely to support him for Prime Minister as my supporting Godzilla as Tokyo's Urban Planning Director. I really haven't seen that much in the way of concrete proposals from him over the years.