Conventional wisdom here in Tokyo has it that Minshuto (DPJ) will hold the upper house elections on July 11 after all.
This is because the party’s popularity has skyrocketed in the wake of the Hatoyama/Ozawa resignations. So the new hope is that the party would win an outright majority in Japan’s upper house of the Diet.
I guess this new electoral math works for both the Ozawa loyalists in the party, the so-called “Ozawa children” that he helped to get elected last August, as well as the Seven Mandarin club (nana bugyou) who are allied with Kan and want Ozawa out of the picture.
Last month, I said that the minor parties would tend to chip away at any possible majority the DPJ could foster. But now, it looks like the minor parties would have the effect of splintering the anti-DPJ vote and making it harder for the LDP (the only credible alternative in district seats) from getting a win.
The People’s New Party’s Kamei Shizuka obviously has done the math as well, which is why he quit the cabinet earlier today. Kamei’s sole purpose is to water down the 2005 postal reform law, and DPJ had agreed to take up that issue quickly. But now, “quickly” might be after the July elections, and what that would mean is that Kamei’s party’s votes might not be needed in the upper house. This would also mean that Kamei gets the postal rollback that the DPJ’s Seven Mandarins want, not the kind that he wants.
Since Ozawa picked any number of the July election candidates, it’s not clear if a big victory helps the Seven Mandarins or helps Ozawa. The new Prime Minister still has to survive a party president election in September. If the Ozawa loyalists are strengthened by next month’s vote, it could be bad news for Prime Minister Kan.
Not exactly stable times in Edo.