Monday, July 01, 2013

Where The Abe Cabinet Will Lead Us - A Preview

Two worthies well worth listening to -- Columbia University professor Gerald Curtis and Sophia University professor Nakano Koichi -- will be speaking this noontime at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. (Link)

I must admit a curious relationship with both men. Professor Curtis gave a very kind public plug for Shisaku last month, with the caveat (an unnecessary one, really) that "Michael is not always right." Professor Nakano does not know quite what to make of me, even after we have served on discussion panels together. I am guessing, though, that I am not his favorite person.

Which is odd, because of the two, I more inclined to agree with Dr. Nakano than Dr. Curtis, specifically on the outlook for the governing style of the Abe Cabinet after the July 21 election. Professor Curtis is largely sanguine, expecting that the postwar habis of political parties and governments holding back from the full use of their powers will carry on past July 21. I believe, and I suspect Dr. Nakano believes that once clear of the House of Councillors election the Liberal Democratic Party's worst elements will run amok, bulldozing long-desired revisionist and remilitarization claptrap through the Diet, constrained by only by the occasional mild protest from a cowering New Komeito and/or their own sloth.

Dr. Curtis has assured me that fear public criticism will keep Abe and Company from making use of the near dictatorial powers they will enjoy after July 21. The good doctor may have a point: the Abe government has heretofore not made much use of its supermajority in the House of Representatives...if by "not made much use" one means, "if one ignores the use of the supermajority to pass the redistricting based upon the egregious +0/-5 electoral reform legislation perpetuating the inequalities in the electoral system critical to LDP dominance." (Link - J)

I am not sure that today's LDP, composed of folks who could not stop attacking Prime Minister Kan Naoto even as the country was plunged in its worst crisis since World War II, is so genteel as to be reined in by admonitions from the nation's editors and television personalities.

If I were at the press conference I would also like to hear what both professors make of the recent drops in voter participation...and not just for the knife to the back such opting out from voting has been for the Democratic Party of Japan. I would like to know how the two professors will incorporate the terrible voter turnout numbers for the last two big elections (last December's House of Representatives election and the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election of June 23) and the projected poor turnout for the July 21 election into their theories on how Japanese democracy works, or, if they wish to categorize it so, how Japanese democracy does not work.

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