AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Watanabe Yoshimi lays out a scenario

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PRIME MINISTER Hatoyama’s plummeting poll ratings, the growing possibility that the ruling Democratic Party of Japan will be unable to capture an outright majority in the upper house election this summer, and the weak leadership of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party is fueling speculation of a major political realignment. Whether soon or late, such a realignment is close to inevitable.

On his website, Your Party leader Watanabe Yoshimi offers some trenchant observations on the current political situation and one possible scenario that might be taking shape—which doesn’t appeal to him in the slightest. Here it is in English.

*****

If a new Masuzoe (Yoichi) Party begins to sprout, it’s conceivable that a new Yosano (Kaoru) Party would be next. If this business of replacing Tanigaki (as head of the Liberal Democratic Party) is going to be just a tempest in a teapot, they should put a lid on it.

Mr. Yosano was very compelling when he went after the “King of the Heisei Tax Dodgers” (Prime Minister Hatoyama) at the Budget Committee hearings, and Mr. Tanigaki was rather unimpressive in comparison. This (movement in the party) would also wind up the same way.

But if the people who selected, designated, and wrote in the name of Taniguchi Sadakazu as party leader just six months ago are now going to stage a rebellion, it would logical for them to leave the party.

If that happened, what would be the main idea behind a new Yosano Party? It would be drastic reform of the tax system—in short, an increase in the consumption tax. For Mr. Yosano, even a growth strategy would be a plan to prevent the dissemination of public funds.

When Mr. Yosano ran against Mr. Aso for the position of LDP president, there was a glimpse of the shadow of a grand coalition government with Mr. Ozawa in the background. There’s more to the Ozawa-Yosano relationship than just two go-playing pals.

The Hatoyama Cabinet’s approval rating is falling in all the polls, and that’s strengthening the upward trend in the disapproval rate. Once again, there is a glimpse of the shadow of a grand coalition in a post-Hatoyama scenario.

Would there be a grand coalition with a Yosano-led LDP, or a switch to a coalition with a new Yosano Party? In either event, their point of convergence would be a drastic reform of the tax system and a reform of the national pension and social welfare.

When Mr. Yosano held the double portfolios of the Finance and Financial Service ministries in the Aso Cabinet, he was dubbed the Patron Saint of the Kasumigaseki bureaucracy. When the Council for the Achievement of a Secure Society was created, it was staffed with several veterans of the bureaucracy.

Now it turns out that the Hatoyama Cabinet has a Council for Studying a New Pension System, and the government seems ready to begin debate over the consumption tax.

Some hold the council should issue a report with a recommendation to form a ruling party-opposition party agreement on the ideal form of secure benefits and liabilities. Even now, Mr. Yosano is likely thinking of a ruling party-opposition party agreement to raise the consumption tax.

It might be that the ghost of creating a “Citizen’s Welfare Tax” and eliminating the consumption tax will emerge to haunt us again.

UPDATE:
Well dang me! I posted this just before going to bed last night. Reading today’s paper, there’s an advertisement for the April issue of Bungei Shunju with an article by Yosano Kaoru.

The copy reads:

“I am disappointed in President Tanigaki. The time has come for me to make a definite decision. I am ready to form a new party.”

One Response to “Watanabe Yoshimi lays out a scenario”

  1. hoofin said

    This is an interesting scenario for post-July Japan (after the Upper House elections). I still think Minshuto is going to try and pull off an all-out victory in the few months of pre-election governing that they’ve left themselves.

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