Japan from the inside out

Disorganization men

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ANY politician’s criticism of the behavior of the slugs in a different political party should always be discounted to offset the inherent bias and seeking of competitive advantage. Sometimes, however, that criticism is so apt and insightful it crystallizes and defines serious problems, particularly when something approximating wise policy or urgent action is required.

Eda Kenji, the secretary-general of Your Party, is often apt and insightful, and, somewhat more often than the other seat-warmers, offers criticisms that tend to stem from legitimate concerns rather than advantage-seeking. His criticism of the behavior of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (and the media) last month is one example. It’s unlikely the problems he addresses will ever be succinctly expressed in English by the journalistic or academic seat-warmers, if at all. Here it is.

The Democratic Party of Japan has suddenly come up with a proposal to reduce the number of Diet seats determined by proportional representation by 80, and to reduce the single-seat, direct election districts by five. (They swallowed the Liberal Democratic Party plan whole.)

Eda Kenji

That came despite the decision of Prime Minister Noda (also the DPJ president) and Deputy Prime Minister Okada (Katsuya) to remove the word “proportional” from the plan for the 80 seats to be cut, as was originally presented in the party manifesto, and leave it at just “80 seats”. This was done out of consideration for the smaller parties to facilitate discussions between the ruling and opposition parties. (N.B.: The leverage, if not the survival, of some of the smaller parties depends on PR seats.)

This happens all the time with the DPJ, so it’s probably a waste of time to bring it up again, but this party has no grasp whatsoever of elementary principles, whether for decision-making or organizational management. It’s not the place to use such grand words as “governance”, because anyone ranked number three or below in the party can overturn the statements of those ranked number one or number two.

That’s right — with this DPJ government, we have absolutely no idea who has responsibility, or where and how decisions are made. Indeed, it is an unforgivable organizational collapse, in which the senior party members keep saying whatever they like whenever the mood strikes them, but no one puts it together into something coherent. People on the outside do not know who or what to believe.

Come to think of it, there are people in the party whose job it is just to talk. I recently spoke with a reporter assigned to cover those people. “Really,” he complained to me, beyond disgusted, “all they do is talk. They think if they say something, the people around them will naturally start moving. That’s why all they do is talk and don’t do anything”. In short, they’ve never worked in the real world, so they don’t know the ABCs of how an organization operates.

Another example is the issue of the reduction of Diet members’ salaries. Deputy Prime Minister Okada ostentatiously brought up that possibility soon after he was appointed to his position. It was immediately dismissed by the party’s secretary-general and acting secretary-general as “Mr. Okada’s personal opinion”. Mr. Okada then made a telephone call to the secretary-general to apologize. That goes beyond the question of whether this is a functioning political party or a government. There is no politician in the Democratic Party who understands organizations.

Really, people! Could you please try, just a little, to put yourself in the position of those who are commanded to hold discussions about the policy to unify social welfare and taxes (the tax increase proposal)? Even the DPJ is calling this policy a preliminary proposal, or something like that. The DPJ is presenting uncertain proposals that have yet to be formally approved by the Cabinet — and it’s doubtful they have the resolve to see through even those proposals formally approved by the Cabinet. Are we supposed to take what they say seriously and hold real discussions?

And it’s about time for the mass media to knock it off, stop taking up for the DPJ, and demanding that we at least participate in discussions. Enough! The people we’re dealing with do not have normal feelings or responses. Rather than that, can’t you say something like, “The opening of the Diet session is later than usual this year. Why can’t the DPJ government open the Diet session earlier during this time of national crisis, when we face a mountain of difficulties”? Or, “The ruling and opposition parties should fully discuss social welfare and taxes under the watchful eye of the people”?

The mass media has begun their program of “tax increase mind control”, but they’re attacking the wrong points.

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One Response to “Disorganization men”

  1. Yebisu said

    “(W)ith this DPJ government, we have absolutely no idea who has responsibility, or where and how decisions are made.”
    This reminds me of a recent speech I listened to by Kevin Maher at the Heritage Foundation. He released a book in Japanese called 決断出来ない日本 that explains how Japan’s inability to make decisions on important issues is crippling the country. He gives a lot of examples that show that all of this undecisiveness was going on way before this DPJ government. Perhaps the irresponsibilty of Japanese politicians reflects a deeper problem.

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