Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Ignobility Of Failure

Soon oh soon the light
Pass within and soothe this endless night
And wait here for you
Our reason to be here...

Yes, "The Gates of Delirium" (1974)

Soon (chikai uchi ni).

The Diet will be dissolved...soon.

That is the promise Liberal Democratic Party president Tanigaki Sadakazu was able to wring out of Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko last night, after threatening to submit a no confidence motion in the House of Representatives and a censure motion in the House of Councillors if the PM did not commit to a dissolution before September 9.

After the leadership of the LDP spent the afternoon mocking the prime minister's offer of a dissolution "in the near future" (chikai shorai ni), asking what the heck it meant and demanding a precise date. "'In the near future?' It is ridiculous to think we would ever agree to that," declared LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kishida Fumio. (J)

For all the energy expended and all the threats, what the LDP has won is the status quo ante. Actually, it came out with less than when it embarked on this campaign of confrontation: its members cannot vote for the no confidence motion six mini- and micro-parties submitted to the House of Representatives and the censure motion seven caucuses submitted to the House of Councillors. (J)

Noda did not cover himself with glory either, at least not on the surface. He agreed to wield the "treasured sword passed down through the generations" (denka no hoto) -- the fancy-pants term for a dissolution of the Diet -- at the request of the LDP.

However, Noda stayed true to the promise he made to his fellow party members yesterday afternoon: that he would not give the LDP a precise date for a dissolution of the Diet. (J)

Furthermore Noda knows -- and one hopes by now the rest of the DPJ knows -- that the meaning of "soon" depends upon how deeply the LDP is willing to injure itself. A House of Representatives election cannot be held until the matter of the unconstitutionality of the districts is settled. If the LDP wants an election "soon" it will have to acquiesce to a DPJ redistricting bill, the details of which are going to make the LDP gag.

As for Tanigaki, this is his Waterloo. He needed to break the Noda government in order to have a chance at reelection in September.

As at Waterloo, the outcome was "a damn nice thing." Noda's fate was not fully secure until the sudden and timely intercession of the six-party and seven-caucus coalitions. Their submissions of motions of no confidence and censure on the 7th scrambled Tanigaki's and the LDP's schedule of attack.

Ever wonder if Ozawa Ichiro's breakaway from the DPJ was an act of political theater meant to confuse the LDP? Sometimes I do.

As for the LDP as a whole, it is in grave peril. Party discipline, which has always been a thing of wonder, will be tested on the no confidence and censure votes. There will be a whirl of activity today, as the leadership tries to keep members of the party from voting for the motions.

Later - Veteran newsman Tahara So'ichiro, writing for Nikkei BP Net, offers a theory: that LDP faction heads, together with Oshima Tadamori, the Talleyrand of LDP politics, cooked up a Tanigaki attempt to renegotiate done deal as a means of guaranteeing Tanigaki's not being reelected party leader in September. (J)

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