Friday, February 03, 2012

Very Kind Of Them #7

The nice folks over at The Point have published a short piece I have written on the two main political circus events of last weekend. (Link)

[Yes, yes, the term is marunomi, not nomikomi. I will get that fixed.]

One correspondent drew an immediate corollary to the assertions made in second half of the piece, namely that the three major parties -- the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito -- now have a strong incentive to work together in the Diet, proving to the populace that they can get things done, this in order to counter the drawing power of Hashimoto Toru's Ishin no Kai.

Already a great deal of positive movement seems to be afoot. Contrary to negative predictions of train wrecks in the Diet made prior to the opening of the regular session, including one made by yours truly, the DPJ and LDP-New Komeito alliance are cutting deals on specific pieces of legislation.

The drafts of three controversial bills have already either been signed off on or are near to closing:

- A draft of a postal counter-reform bill (E)

- The New Komeito's draft bill reducing of the remuneration of central government bureaucrats by an average of 7.8%, a draft that has the DPJ's ally, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) hissing mad (J)

- A draft revision of the law on dispatched workers in which the DPJ is following the lead of the LDP (J)

As for the crucial bill on reapportionment of Diet seats (crucial in that the current apportionment is unconstitutional), the DPJ is playing around with both LDP and New Komeito ideas in order drive a wedge in between the two opposition partners, making them both more amenable to a DPJ-proposed compromise. The DPJ has already submitted a draft bill taking the LDP's proposal to eliminate the five smallest districts in the nation (the so-called "+0/-5 solution") and bolting on to it the DPJ's manifesto proposal to cut 80 proportional seats -- a bill that if passed into law would favor the election of DPJ and LDP candidates but devastate the New Komeito. At the same time, the DPJ is listening very carefully to the New Komeito proposal to chuck the d'Hondt method of awarding proportional seats in favor of the Additional Member System (hirei daihyo renyosei), which, if it had been in use during the August 2009 House of Representatives election, would have left the DPJ still winning a majority of seats, would have more than doubled the number of seats won by the New Komeito and the Communists and would have left the LDP a skeleton. (J)

With the looming possibility of the emergence over the next few months of a third force in Japanese politics -- i.e., a non-LDP alternative to the DPJ -- a lot of otherwise unfocused LDP minds are focusing on passing an electoral reform bill sooner, rather than later.


sigma1 said...

I could wrong, and if I am not, I am certainly being pedantic, but I believe that the AMS designation refers to types of mixed PR-constituency systems, such as the MMP system NZ and Germany uses, and the Supplementary Member system that Japan uses. The 連用制 would be as such under the AMS banner, along with MMP (併用制) and SM (並立制), but is not "AMS" as such. Instead of using 1,2,3 etc (as in the d'Hont formula) as the divisors of the second PR vote, the number of constituency seats won by that party becomes the divisor of the PR vote for that party, thereby advantaging the parties that don't do well in constituency seats but do do well in the PR vote.

As for the actual point of your post, it will indeed be interesting to see how long this cooperation can keep up among the mainstream parties. I think the one advantage the parties have is that Kamei and Hiranuma despite believing they are assisting the process of realignment are probably actually hindering it - unless they melt into the background then "entrepreneurial" DPJ/LDP members are less likely to jump ship compared to a more neutral Hashimoto brand. I also note that there has been a bit of policy discordance between the different factions of the local autonomy crew. It could be that they may agree to disagree on other issues, such as tax raises etc, and form only a very loose cooperation on local autonomy and administrative issues only. Hashimoto to his credit has come out and stated that talk of raising or reducing taxes before one even knows what the relative balances of power are nationally/regionally, and what a reformed administrative system would look like, is "nonsense." That might be an issue for Omura/Kawamura.

On the other hand, I wonder if it is just simply too late for the mainstream parties to cooperate - they should have thought about this little "Hashimoto" problem well before it became a problem. Serves them right, if so.

MTC said...

sigma1 -

There seems to be no standard English translation of the renyosei. Wikipedia identifies the renyosei as the election method used to elect the Scottish Parliament, which is the Additional Member System: