Japan from the inside out


Posted by ampontan on Thursday, May 26, 2011

REPORTS are now circulating that LDP President Tanigaki Sadakazu is planning to introduce a no-confidence motion against the Kan Cabinet soon after 1 June. He has refrained from submitting one before now to allow Mr. Kan to attend the G8 summit. Meanwhile, former DPJ Prime Minister Hatoyama is exhorting MPs of his own party to show courage and resolution, which is taken as a hint he hopes they vote for the motion. To be sure, courage and resolution will be required for more than a few in the party to vote aye. Passage of a no-confidence motion will require a new general election in which some of those legislators will surely lose their seats.

Mr. Hatoyama has also met with former party president Ozawa Ichiro and Koshi’ishi Azuma, the chairman of the DPJ caucus in the upper house, to discuss their gripes with the current government.

For his part, Mr. Ozawa and several of his allies are ramping up their criticism of Prime Minister Kan. Mr. Ozawa himself said he was “angry” at the government’s post-earthquake conduct. DPJ MP Haraguchi Kazuhiro, Internal Affairs and Communications minister in the Hatoyama Cabinet, has resumed his call for the removal of the Kan Cabinet that he suspended after the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami. (His first public statements urging that Mr. Kan be toppled were in an interview he granted to the March issue of the monthly Gekkan Nihon.) He hinted that were the motion to pass, requiring a new lower house election, he would be unable to campaign in support of the DPJ. If the rumors of a new Hatoyama-funded party are true, he and other disaffected DPJ members could find a comfortably feathered nest there.

It is never wise to make any predictions about Japanese politics, so we’ll wait and see whether Mr. Tanigaki introduces the no-confidence motion, and who decides to vote for it.

But you can take this prediction to the financial institution of your choice: If such a motion is introduced, not to mention approved, fly-by members of the Western media and commentariat will consider it a prime space-filling opportunity to fulminate against the dysfunctionality of Japanese politics at the national level. They will offer clichéd platitudes about petty partisan squabbling and indulge in political cosplay by wrapping themselves in the Japanese flag to lament the absence of a dedication to the greater good during a national emergency.

What their readers outside of Japan will not understand, however, is that had Mr. Kan been the head of government in their own country and performed as he has over the past year —- and especially these past two months — these glorioskies would be baying for his blood 24/7. Indeed, were Prime Minister Kan not a man of the left, some of them would be marching in the streets holding amateurish banners festooned with misspelled words, swastikas, and Hitler-moustachioed caricatures.

In their hearts, they know I’m right.

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