Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hashimoto Toru Says No

One of Abe Shinzo's main selling points, if not his only one in the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election, was his purportedly having mesmerized Osaka City mayor Hashimoto Toru. The conventional wisdom was that if any one of the five candidates in presidential contest was going to work out an entente with Hashimoto's Japan Restoration Party, it was going to be Abe.

Post-House of Representatives election, maybe. Pre-election? No.

Hashimoto went out of his way yesterday to tell a grand lie on Abe's behalf, saying that he was a trustworthy politician:
"I have great expectations for him. I believe him a politician in whom one can place one's trust. I would like to for him to pull the LDP in his wake."

(Link - J)
He also noted that in terms of reform of the constitution, he and Abe were on the same page.

Unfortunately for those in the LDP who were hoping that the 42 year-old Hashimoto would defer in awe to his 58 year-old senior, Hashimoto also noted that the JNR's commitment to the Trans Pacific Partnership and the phaseout of the use of nuclear power were at odds with the LDP's positions on these issues.

As for the all-important matter of election cooperation, Hashimoto dumped a bucketful of ice water on the concept, saying that JNR, which formally begins operations on Friday, will run a candidate in every district possible, irrespective of the LDP's candidate in that district. (J)

Ostensibly Hashimoto's promise means that the JNR could field a candidate in Abe's Yamaguchi #4 district -- not that that would be a very wise move in terms of a post-election bargaining position.

Hashimoto's promise also means that old wine LDP and fresh face JNR candidates could split the right-leaning vote, allowing the centrist Democratic Party of Japan candidates to sneak away with the districts.

Not a pleasant thought for the LDP membership.

As for fresh faces, the JNR secretariat is looking at capping the number of Diet members allowed to flee to the party at around 15 (J). JNR leaders are aware that the party can hardly present itself as an insurgent movement if its ranks are stuffed with retreads from the LDP, DPJ and Your Party. Nine current members of the Diet sat in on the JNR's most recent policy roundtable. These nine are slated to be introduced as party candidates at Friday's unveiling.

JNR leaders are also aware that the party relies on its early converts and those who enrolled in Hashimoto's juku for both ground forces and funding. With the party refusing corporate and union donations, and ineligible for public funding until April of next year, it needs to dangle candidacies as rewards for the sacrifices party workers and supporters must make.

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