Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Abe's Clock Is Ticking

Tom Hagen: When I meet with Tattaglia's men, should I insist all their drug middlemen have clean records?

Don Corleone: Mention it; don't insist.

-- The Godfather (1972)

Try to develop with threats, but don't threaten pointlessly.

-- Bruce Pandolfini, "The 64 Commandments of Chess"
On Sunday on NHK, Abe Shinzo laid out a pair of demands:

"Unless the Diet is dissolved by November 22, it will be impossible to make preparations [for elections]. It will be necessary for the prime minister and the DPJ administration to show some kind of inclination toward this point, sometime this week."
(Link - J)

Or what?

Seriously, what does Abe Shinzo intend to do, should Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko not answer his challenge by this coming Sunday?

Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Komura Masahiko knows what he will be able to do: he will be able to call the prime minister not just a liar (Link) but a liar with distinction:

"If the prime minister's 'I will dissolve the Diet soon' turns out to be a lie, then he will be the All Time Slots Ratings Champion (yonkan'o) liar."
(Link – J)

Criticism of Abe's and Komura's brinkmanship is coming in from the oddest corners. Last night at a reception for LDP members of the House of Representatives, a reception that Abe and Komura both attended, former Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro, Abe Shinzo's former faction boss and a presumed hard case, told the assembled he has heard quite enough:

"When both the party president and the party vice president are saying, 'Dissolve the Diet quickly!' they are both saying borin' ass stuff way too much."
(Link – J)

No, that is not too free a translation. Not when a good old boy like Mori is doing the talking.

Prime Minister Noda could hardly care less whether anyone calls him a liar or not. Nevertheless, Abe's and Komura's rhetoric portends the possibility of a showdown well before anyone is really prepared to handle one. The LDP has only just reelected Abe party president and cannot pull him down off his soap box (in this blessed land it would be a plastic beer crate placed upside down) should matters get out of hand.

Abe has laid out his demands, to be satisfied by the end of this week. The prime minister will not accede to those demands. Unless the LDP has arranged for the financing of a breakout of a sufficient number of DPJ Diet members to drop the ruling coalition's membership below 50% in the House of Representatives – an unlikely but not impossible achievement – then the deadline will pass without Noda's having budged a nanometer.

It is not out of place for Abe and Komura to put Noda on the spot by asking just exactly when this "soon" (chikai uchi ni) of his is supposed to happen. But to tack on insults, empty threats and time tables...

"Mention it; don't insist."

Too late for that now.

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