Japan from the inside out

It’s dango time

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ONE post yesterday presented journalist Suda Shin’ichiro passing along information that the pro-tax increase faction in the ruling Democratic Party has become taken with the idea of putting off a lower house election over the tax issue — which they’d lose — by raising the problem of the imbalance of voter weighting in individual election districts. A few days before that, we saw that the DPJ has been considering for nearly a year the creation of a grand coalition government following a lower house election unlikely to result in a clear majority for either of the two major parties. Even though many of them would die a gruesome political death, some would still keep the perks of power.

Here it comes!

Former Chief Cabinet Secretary and current backstage DPJ bigwig Sengoku Yoshito appeared on Fuji TV on the morning of the 8th. He suggested a bill to reduce the number of lower house members would be submitted before the legislation for raising the consumption tax.

We have to do “first things first”, and I think that bill (lower house reduction) will come before the other.


The biggest problem is that politics can’t get anything done. Doesn’t that need to be handled with a grand coalition?

Your Party head Watanabe Yoshimi sees what’s going on and doesn’t like it. Asked about Prime Minister Noda’s call to the opposition parties to discuss legislation, he said:

If you want to raise taxes, submit a bill quickly and let’s deal with it in the Diet. We won’t respond to talks for bid-rigging schemes (dango) beforehand.

(Dango is the Japanese term referring to construction companies holding discussions to determine in advance who gets what public works project in advance for how much.)

Mr. Watanabe knows that the Democratic Party, Liberal Democratic Party, and New Komeito will try to work out an arrangement that keeps them at the top of the power structure and protect themselves from the reform parties. They’re particularly worried about the new local parties pushing for major reforms that have been winning sub-national elections handily against the Old Guard.

He also knows that the LDP mudboaters want to restore the old multiple-seat districts that facilitated their political dominance in the second half of the last century, and that New Komeito will fight any reduction of proportional representation seats. That is an existential issue for them.

The DPJ announced it would build a new Japan when it took power in the fall of 2009. Their version of a “new Japan” turns out to be the spitting image of the old Japan with a bigger table to make room for their seats at the banquet of power.

It’s dango time!

If an Argentinian singer, American ukelelean, and Bolivian sanshin player, all of Japanese heritage, can peform La Bomba in a university lounge in Okinawa, those three parties can surely cut a deal they’ll be happy with.

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