Monday, March 26, 2012

Hashimoto's Women And Some Wishful Thinking

Over at σ1, Corey Wallace has a new post up about the Saturday opening of Hashimoto Toru's juku. In his post Wallace argues that the Ishin no kai movement has an Achille's heel: it seems to have only a limited attraction to women. Women candidates have had powerful symbolic force in the last two House of Representatives elections, yet fewer than 10% of the 3326 applicants for the Hashimoto juku have been women.

I am not sure I buy the argument. First, 10% of 3326 is 330, which 30 more than the total number of candidates the Ishin no kai is expected to run in the next House of Representatives election.

Second, Hashimoto, who will have final say as to the candidates, is no dummy. Where a woman candidate will have a better chance to win than man, he will select a woman to run.

Third, and this is significant, the current ruling Democratic Party of Japan is a disaster when it comes to empowering women. A glance at the current Cabinet and the sub-cabinet level political posts makes this abundently clear. It is true that former party leader Ozawa Ichiro recruited high-profile women candidates to run and win against male Liberal Democratic Party candidates. However, the association with Ozawa currently disempowers these women in intra-party politics and prevents them from receiving significant posts.

The Liberal Democratic Party, despite its reputation, did promote women -- not only to more significant posts but in greater numbers. The cabinets of Koizumi Jun'ichiro were very woman-friendly: a surprising outcome from a divorced politician with a reputation of one with an eye for, but not a commitment to, the ladies. Tanigaki Sadakazu had Koike Yuriko as his chair of the General Council; no DPJ woman has ever been anywhere near a top party post.

So if any party needs to fear its relationship with women, it is the DPJ. Contrary to misconceptions, the DPJ has historically had a greater popularity with men than with women. Given the current DPJ leadership's retrenchment on issues of special importance to women like the child-rearing allowance (E), a supposition that the DPJ will do as well among women as it did in 2009 is shaky.

As for the DPJ's views of the opening of the Hashimoto juku, the member of the party executive who states...
"Ishin no Kai's use-by date will expire in a year. If the dissolution of the lower house is moved back further, Ishin no Kai will lose its momentum."

Link) living on Fantasy Island.

The Ishin no kai will not just fade away into irrelevance like the LDP reform revolts headed by Kato Ko'ichi, Watanabe Yoshimi and Masuzoe Yo'ichi. The Ishin no kai is a popular movement with a base in the Kansai. It is not a just wooden horse from the Nagata-cho merry-go-round that has suddenly reared up and bolted away.

Stopping Hashimoto from reaching greater heights and amassing more power will require hard, hard work, with the news media colluding cooperating with the mainstream parties to hold him down. Just sitting around in the tatami room, drinking mugi-cha and swatting at mosquitoes, waiting for the Ishin no kai to fall à la Blood, Sweat and Tears, will just not suffice.

1 comment:

sigma1 said...

Thanks as always for the link. To be sure, I am not really sure what argument I was asking readers to "buy" as such - other than Hashimoto needing to pay attention to the gender balance when making his final decision. I certainly was not arguing that the DPJ was holistically better at promoting women to roles of importance. Rather, smart political operators understand the importance of the gender narrative when appealing for support form the reform minded electorate, of which we seem to be in agreement.