Friday, April 10, 2015

Abe, Abe Uber Alles

No, this is not one of those childish comparisons of Abe to Hitler, complete with photo of Abe with a penciled in mustache.

No, this is a post praising Abe for succeeding in driving the country forward according to his plan and pretty much according to his schedule, with virtually zero political consequences.

Yesterday, the House of Councillors passed what was nominally the largest budget on record. True, passage came 9 days after the start of the new fiscal year, necessitating a brief bridge budget to keep the government offices open. Still considering that calling a December House of Representatives election blew the budget compilation process right out of the water...and furthermore considering that the opposition spent the last two months pounding away at the discrepancies, errors and dissimulations in the campaign finance declarations of members of the Cabinet, the dispute over the safety of nuclear reactor restarts, increasing economic disparities or the continuing strife in Okinawa, passing the budget only nine days late should probably be seen as something of a minor miracle.

While we are on the topic of the obstructionist tactics of the opposition, they ended up being an immense waste of time. The Cabinet's popularity stayed basically steady; the a-historially high levels of support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party did not budge; and support for the mainstream opposition Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Innovation Party stayed limited (5% to 8%). After expending two months of Diet time in attacks, the ruling party and opposition are pretty much where they were before the Diet session opened.

Opposition parties at some point will have to shake off the habit of chasing after minimal violations (like Minister Matsushima Midori's fans), admitting that these harrying tactics have never been more than facilitation of factional and individual fights within the LDP. Abe has outmaneuvered and marginalized every possible rival within his party sos plashing the PM with mud cannot raise the prospects of intra-party rivals to try to replace him.

Oh, what a lucky (or clever) party leader the PM is.

Even Abe's supposed Achilles' heel -- his revisionist views of history. Of the three East Asian leaders who set forth on the journey to consolidate their political base, it is Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye who finds herself odd person out. China'x Xijinping and Abe have tranformed themselves into the unquestioned and popular (if we make the Abe Cabinet's popularity equivalent to Abe's personal appeal -- which I suspect it actually is not) leaders of their parties and their governments. Park has not.

We should not be surprised if we see a shift in the emphasis of Xi's diplomacy away from the presumably pliant but weak Park to the stubborn and difficult yet in command Abe.

Not surprising that the equities markets gave a cheer this morning, the Nikkei jumping above 20,000 for the first time in 15 years.

For like a colossus is our Abe, perhaps hollow inside but hard without, standing aloof and tall, way above all who surround him.



Avery said...

The constant complaint about Abe is that he's an effective politician but a bad historian. I find it odd considering that he constantly insists he's not a historian.

MTC said...

Avery -


Will borrow with attribution for all my presentations.