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Interesting Times 8 March, 2009

Filed under: politics — johnraff @ 2:30 am
Tags: , ,

That was supposed to be an ancient Chinese curse – “may you live in interesting times” –  and you could probably have said for a long time after I got here that Japanese politics were not all that interesting. The Liberal Democratic Party returned election after election, one anonymous prime minister after another, the Diet just a talking shop while the real decisions about the course of Japan Inc. were taken elsewhere… There were a couple of distractions here and there: the Lockheed and Recruit scandals, a brief Socialist government soon given the kiss of death from the LDP, who offered “eyebrows” Murayama a coalition and completely destroyed his party’s electoral appeal, the Japan New Party of Hosokawa, but on the whole as long as the economy went on improving people didn’t really care all that much if the LDP had a boring monopoly on power.

Things started to get more interesting when Koizumi became prime minister. Along with that nasty “cuddles” Takenaka he started trashing “old Japan” and  bringing in a sort of Thatcherization. The pernicious results – ever widening gulf between rich and poor, loss of job security, erosion of social solidarity – are only now coming out, but at the time Koizumi looked like some kind of modernizing hero and at the next general election the LDP got a landslide majority. Dozens of new “Koizumi children” filled the Diet benches. The torch passed to his protege Abe and things started to fall apart. Scandals, a minister’s suicide, general ineptness and an upper house election catastrophe in which the opposition parties got a majority – Abe resigned, followed as PM by Fukuda, who seemed OK but soon resigned too, fed up with trying to get legislation through the hostile upper house.

Now we’ve got the appropriately named Aso, who seems the worst of the lot and has approval ratings of around 15%! There’s been no general election since Koizumi’s landslide; Abe, Fukuda and Aso were chosen by internal processes of the LDP, who know that if they held an election now all those Koizumi children would be out on the street again. Still, by law they’ve got to call an election by Autumn this year so they’re sort of stuck…

At just this moment, miraculously (for the LDP), the public prosecutor finds something fishy with the political donations received by Ozawa, the leader of the biggest opposition Democratic Party. Ah.. just a minute, according to today’s news it seems to be spreading to the LDP too…

(Last week the Far Eastern Economic Review had this to say about the situation here in Japan.)

Quite interesting I’m sorry to say.


One Response to “Interesting Times”

  1. […] else in the party at the time. He dithered a bit, came out with one inept remark after another, and his approval just went down and down. Like an animal caught in a car’s headlights the LDP just froze and now their rule finally […]

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