Japan is having party leader elections this month. I have been cursorily following the news.
Commenters generally expect Prime Minister Noda of the DPJ to win another term as party president. The man who is his presumptive rival though, Tanigaki Sadakazu, is probably going to be booted out as the head of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). This is the party that had ruled Japan for 55 years. (It may be though, that they ruled Japan nominally for 55 years.)
Japanese politics seemed to be in a huge mess in my late years there (2009 and 2010). The DPJ had won their “regime change” (seiken koutai) election, but couldn’t move beyond the issue of where the US base in Okinawa should be relocated to. That had been something agreed to with us in 2006, but was spontaneously revived in the few weeks after the DPJ won. To me, it was smelly Ozawa antics, tried and true.
Michael Cucek, the writer of Shisaku, is a keen observer of things. He is more favorable to Ozawa than I am, and more than the Japanese press is. It will be interesting, if the next Diet election is called sooner, rather than later, if the parties align along a scheme where there is a pro-Ozawa faction, and an anti-Ozawa faction. Ozawa appears to be the fat cog which has been plugging up the hose since about 1993. Certain elements in Japanese society–the overall, behind-the- scenes power structure just don’t want to deal with him.
What said it for me about Ozawa was a report that came through Wikileaks of the US Embassy. Around the time of the 2009 government, Ozawa and a group of DPJers went to China and had their picture taken in the Great Hall, or some high-end venue. The event was meant to show Japan’s sway with China, although it was interpreted as vice-versa, too.
Well, some time later, Ozawa made a similar request of the State Department that he appear with a delegation in Washington, and, hopefully, with the same sort of photo opportunity.
Yet another Japanese leader who sees foreign people as objects to play one off the other.
It will be interesting to see who the LDP selects as their new leader. Chances are, a Diet election won’t produce a majority for any party or for the LDP-Komeito coalition. Thus, the new leader would have to be a very good backroom dealer to get a government working in 2013.