Friday, August 10, 2012

Taking Up Sides Against The Family

Both the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan suffered breakdowns in party discipline in last night's no confidence vote.

As I noted in my live blogging of last night's vote, seven members of the LDP remained in the chamber and voted for the no confidence motion:

Nakagawa Hidenao
Shiozaki Yasuhisa
Suga Yoshihide
Koizumi Shinjiro
Kawai Katsuyuki
Shibamasa Masahiko
Matsunami Kenta

Disciplining the first four will be difficult. Nakagawa is already serving a six-month suspension of party privileges for having absented himself from the consumption tax bill vote in June. What to do now -- extend his suspension to a year?

Shiozaki presents an equally difficult conundrum. As a card-carrying member of the "Friends of Shinzo" -- the coterie of fanatabulist radicals who seized control of the government after their leader, Abe Shinzo, was elected prime minister -- he represents the vanguard of what has been a heretofore largely silent segment of the LDP's support base: the haters of postwar Japan as it is. Punishing Shiozaki severely threatens the unity of the Machimura Faction, which while ruled by a dove is filled with hawkish opponents of the current leadership group, its policies and its tactics.

As for Koizumi Shinjiro, he is a superstar, with the looks and the hooks to bring the house down. He has been among the LDPs most effective critics of the DPJ, from the very first weeks of the DPJ's turn as the party in power. He is a fourth-generation lawmaker, who won his father's district without his father lifting a finger to help him, a brilliant impromptu speaker and a winner in a year when the LDP first-termers had nearly zero chance of election.

He does not need the LDP: the LDP needs him.

On the DPJ side, there were two members who voted for the resolution: Kobayashi Koki, whom I disparaged yesterday, and Koizumi Toshiaki, who spent seven years cooling his heels after two terms as a DPJ district Representative. He was revived in the landslide election of 2009 as the Representative for Ibaraki District #3.

In addition to these two turncoats, who submitted their resignations from the party prior to last night's vote, five members of the DPJ's House of Representatives delegation called in sick.

Former Prime Minister Hata Tsutomu's illness was real: he has been hospitalized since February with an undisclosed illness.

Four other members, however, came down with illnesses of convenience:

Hatoyama Yukio
Kawauchi Hiroshi
Nakagawa Osamu
Tsuji Megumu

Kawauchi (Kagoshima District #1, 5th term) has been the human quote machine for a news media complex eager to find members of the DPJ willing to talk trash about the leadership. He has been a DINO (Democrat In Name Only) for as long as anyone can remember. His personal website (Link) has as its top line Kokumin seikatsu ga dai'ichi, the Ozawa Ichiro-dreamed up 2009 electoral slogan and the name of Ozawa's new party.

Kawauchi can and should be joining one of Ozawa's parties. However, he is far more useful to Ozawa as a DPJ irritant. The party should expel him. However, to expel Kawauchi and not expel Hatoyama will be difficult to explain.

Nakagawa is in his second term, having served from 2003-05 as a proportional seat member from the Kinki bloc. His career was revived by the 2009 landslide, where he became the district seat holder for Osaka District #18.

Tsuji Megumu has had a nearly carbon copy career, serving in a Kinki bloc proportional seat in 2003-2005. He lost his seat in the 2005 LDP landslide, then failed as the DPJ's candidate for mayor of Osaka City that same year. His career was also revived by the 2009 landslide, where he won the district seat for Osaka District #17.

The latter two mid-career veterans, with only a single district victory under their belts, have to be looking at the popularity of Hashimoto Toru's Osaka Ishin no kai and figuring that they have no chance at reelection as Democrats. Unfortunately for the pair, they have no chance of reelection as independents. If they had remained faithful to the leadership of the Democratic Party, then they might have at least had the chance to return to the Diet from the proportional list.

That is all water under the bridge now. The DPJ's local party organization will not support them as district candidates for the next election, ending their political careers.

As for Hatoyama, he is a special case. He is the co-founder of the DPJ. He and his mother bankrolled the party in its early years, when corporations would turn their backs on the party. He will be disciplined but in an insufficiently severe way, making it impossible to put a lid on the loquacious Kawauchi.

However, Hatoyama has gone too far. He has been both treacherous and useless. His tenure as prime minister was a disaster for the party, laying the groundwork for the party's losing control of the House of Councillors and thus the ability to set the political agenda. Since his downfall, an unrepentant Hatoyama has never ceased engaging in limp but still corrosive efforts to undermine his successors. He also encouraged Ozawa Ichiro, a man who has never understood the concept of party loyalty, to cause mischief.

Hatoyama should probably be considered the Fredo Corleone of the DPJ. He's family, so whadda ya gonna do? He is safe "as long as Mama is still alive" -- i.e., until such time as the current Diet is dissolved. The mainline leadership of the party will have to keep him at arm's length, but no further. After the Diet is dissolved, however, the present leadership will very probably take him fishing.

1 comment:

Mark said...

As you seem to be knowledgeable about things related to Japan, I thought I'd ask you this question...

I've been looking for the daily exchange rate between the Japanese yen and the U.S. dollar. Many websites have this information for the recent past. But I want the daily exchange rate for the period before the dollar was set to 360 yen. I'm looking for the daily exchange rate from when Japan went off the gold standard (in 1917 I believe) to when the yen was set to 360 (which was in 1949 I believe).

Do you know of a website or book that has this information? I've searched Google and I haven't been able to find it.