There is a buzz in the news, because 5 ministers in the Japanese government who are allied with former DPJ head Ozawa Ichiro, have announced that they are resigning from the government. Shisaku says that this means they will support the vote of no confidence against their party, which is to be held sometime Thursday.
The DPJ have 308 of the 480 seats in the lower house of the Japanese Diet. A minor party provides them some extra seats.
The Japan Times reports that the latest Ozawa faction, which includes former Prime Minister and, frankly, Ozawa toady Yukio Hatoyama, has about 100 votes within the DPJ. They say that this camp would need something over 82 or 85 votes against their party in order to bring down the government. The Times also reports, though, that only 50 of the total 100 are seen to be committed to Ozawa, and 30 are not. This puts his maximum, mathematical pull at 70, right? I am not a great vote counter, and who really knows? I’m not even sure those figures include the so-called Ozawa Children, many of whom are women legislators. One thing is clear though:The push for the change of government is purely coming from those involved in the infighting of Japanese government. The general public is clearly just disgusted, and has been for many, many years now.
How will this go? Here are the obvious possibilities:
1) Ozawa’s core group, the Isshin-kai, estimated at 50 members, and Hatoyama’s weaker sub-group, which used to be called the “Seiken Koutai” group–maybe 30 members–can convince the whole band to stick together. But I think these numbers exclude some of the aforementioned Ozawa Children, who were swept into office in the DPJ landslide of August 2009. This must be where the Japan Times gets 100, but a weak 70 as maximum support. If that happens, then it probably is “game over” for the DPJ in its current incarnation.
I am in the minority, but I also think that means it’s over for Ozawa. He has gone around full circle, and no one would trust him. The only thing he has proven to 100% certainty is that only a fool would trust him on any political deal. Any coalition with the people allied to him would only be done if he always gets his way. That’s what he’s proven since the early 1990’s. He is just too eager to do deals for the sake of them, and then go do other deals with someone else.
The United States clearly saw this in the Hatoyama Government (2009-2010). He can’t expect any support from people in Washington. China basically made a fool out of him by hosting his grand conference in Beijing a while back.
So no one trusts him domestically, and nobody trusts him internationally.
A fall of the government would also mean an election in short order. There is no way he could convince the public to do another “seiken koutai” (regime change).
2) The no-confidence vote fails to eject the government. One thing is already certain, and that means the DPJ splits, either by expelling the people who voted against the party, or by those people reading the writing on the wall and setting up their own.
This would prove interesting, because it would leave the power to call the next election with those who stuck with Prime Minister Kan. As long as the Prime Minister could navigate the troubles in the Upper House—where the DPJ no longer has a functioning majority—Kan or his faction could soldier on until the next required Lower House election in 2013.
More and more, I don’t think the government of Japan actually runs things as much as the unelected bureaucrats do. This current chaos is just some more proof. It lends credibility to the notion that the United States and allies just handed power back to a set of reformed right-wingers who attacked us in 1941. It wasn’t the exact same people, but a different set cut in the same cloth. Once they settled on an overall strategy, they formed the Liberal Democratic Party–the one finally voted out in 2009. As long as Uncle Sammy was getting what it wanted, and the honey flowed to the right people from the trans-Pacific Honey Pot of business, military, and academic trade, then everything was smooth. The only major problem was the Japanese Bubble Economy of the late 1980’s.
The last twenty years have been less about weak governments than it has been about showing the overall public that behind-the-scenes people run Japan. They don’t.
We have this a bit, too, in America, but it’s harder to keep hid. And the two major parties are distinct on certain issues. Power changes hands more credibly.