Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Dog That Has Not, Or Had Not, Barked

Gregory: "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."

Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "Silver Blaze" (1892)
It is often the case that something not happening is far more interesting than when something does.

What is that is it that has not happened that is so gobsmacking, eye-opening amazing?

That since the Ozawa Ichiro breakout of July 2, neither the Noda Cabinet nor the Democratic Party of Japan has won even a percentage point of their popularity back. In fact, the support numbers have gone down.

Jiji Press poll, July 6-9 (previous poll: June 8-11)

Noda Cabinet

Support 21% (24%)
Do Not Support 60% (55%)

Party Support

DPJ 7% (9%)
LDP 13% (13%)

Kyodo News poll, July 14-15 (previous poll: June 26-27)

Noda Cabinet

Support 28% (29%)
Do Not Support 60% (54%)

Party Support

DPJ 15% (17%)
LDP 18% (22%)

The one tiny point of light in the news is the centimetering up of the percentage of voters willing to plunk down for the DPJ in the proportional vote of a House of Representative election.

Kyodo News poll, July 14-15 (previous poll: June 26-27)

Will, in the proportional vote, choose the:

DPJ 14% (13%)
LDP 19% (22%)
Osaka Ishin no kai 13% (13%)
Livelihood Party 6%
Your Party 5% (4%)
JCP 4% (3%)
New Komeito 3% (3%)
Other parties 2% (2%)

Don't know/don't care 34% (37%)

That the DPJ and the Noda Cabinet have not gained any traction from emerging from beneath the supposedly looming shadow of Ozawa Ichiro made yesterday's resignations of Tanioka Kuniko, Koda Kuniko and Funayama Yasue absolutely unsurprising. All three are district seat holders of the House of Councillors, first termers up for reelection in July of next year (E). All three, need it be said, were Ozawa recruits.

Indeed Tanioka's not resigning from the DPJ on July 2 was one of the dogs that "did nothing in the night-time." If ever there was a Ozawa-Hatoyama loyalist, it is she. Remember the infamous party at the Hatoyama villa in Karuizawa on August 19, 2010, when the Ozawa groupies began chanting "kiai da, kiai da" ("Now is the moment! Now is the moment!") -- encouraging Hatoyama to declare his support for Ozawa, should Ozawa choose to run against Kan Naoto for the party presidency (which Ozawa did, a fortnight later) -- with such hysterical fervor some of them must have wet themselves? Here is the photo of Hatoyama's toast at the party, with the host looking already at least three sheets into the wind:

Tanioka is the one with the beer glass and the broad grin, standing equidistant between the two big men -- a position she has also occupied in Nagata-cho.

That Tanioka has jumped ship finally solves one riddle but poses another. She, Funayama and Koda are joining hands with Kamei Akiko, the daimyo heiress, to form a new parliamentary group, the Green Wind (midori no kaze) which sounds a lot better in the Japanese and hearkens back to the Ryokufukai, the Association of the Green Wind -- the caucus of independents in the first Diet elected under the present constitution. With one more Diet member, either from the House of Councillors or the House of Representatives, Green Wind could apply to be an actual party, attracting both public and private funding. While Tanioka is very well-off and Kamei, being the Tsuwano hanshu's lineal descendant, is probably not hurting for cash, Funayama and Koda were, until their elections, housewives. The latter pair could hardly fund independent reelection campaigns, even with help from Ozawa and Hatoyama. With party backing, however, the pair would likely win reelection.

So is Tanioka, who faithfully carried water for both Hatoyama and Ozawa, breaking out on her own?

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