So much for Seiken Koutai.
I like to read Michael Cucek’s blog for insight about the Japanese government, particularly since I’m not there anymore. He has had a lot recently about the late days of Noda, and speculates a bit about what the possibilities are for the next Japanese government.
I guess the consensus out there is that the LDP (Jimentou) will gain back seats that it lost in the 2009 DPJ landslide (the so-branded “seiken koutai” above). But: the election will not produce a decisive outcome for the LDP, and, instead, create a weak coalition government. This means, I suppose, that the bureaucrats and the shadow powers in Japan will still be running the show. The politicians will all seem the same; only the names will have changed.
The US government (State Department) says that they are willing to work with whoever the Japanese elect. However, if you are an American who knows anything about what goes on between Japan and America, what this means is that whatever deals and understandings the trans-Pacific power people have with Japan, these will be expected to just stay the same. So the Defense Department just keeps doing its thing; the corporate element expects no disruption in the lopsided trade relations; Japan still gets every deal it’s bargained for or favorable stance it’s manipulated for itself.
One would hope that channels would communicate to the political parties there that the US would be upset about any number of things if Shinzo Abe returns with the Tamogami Toshio crowd, or if this new Ishihara-Hashimoto rightist faction gains any credibility beyond sideshow. There are any number of Japan-side US diplomats who still want to play 20th century Cold War, and the people who populate the LDP will be happy to oblige. Ishihara and Hashimoto, it seems, are into revisionism more than Showa era (I don’t know how much of the Showa era Hashimoto was even around for).
The disappointment for me about the DPJ is that, in the end, it wasn’t a real party. It had a party manifest, but then, no way to carry it out. So it immediately sought diversion in making trouble, via Fukushima Mizuho, in the Futenma base relocation issue. They wasted a year on that. It had to deal with an 800 pound gorilla in Ozawa Ichiro, with whom the LDP would never deal, and who really seems like a guy whose alliances aren’t very solid, and who ends up mucking things up if you do agree to a deal with him.
The more generic center-leftists, like my favorite, Akira Nagatsuma, were effectively neutered when they tried to make serious reforms. In Minister Nagatsuma’s case, it was about the pensions.
It will be something to see what the DPJ ends up with after December 16. If there is a three-way split of the electorate (LDP-Komeito, Ishihara-Hashimoto, DPJ), they may get something sizable if they can hold on to first-past-the-post districts. If not, it may mean that Japan is left without any credible center-left party.