Friday, November 17, 2006

I move to Kamakura, and the education bill moves to the Upper House

I have now moved out from Kaiyo Gakuen -- where I spent my last night speaking to the students, pegged as future leaders of Japan, about the importance of learning about foreign societies and appreciating Japan's responsiblities as a great power. (I previously wrote about my surveying of students' ideas here.)

I have moved to Kamakura, and have begun working -- today, in fact -- for Asao Keiichiro.

The timing for my arrival is auspicious. On Monday the Upper House is due to begin debate on the Abe Cabinet's revision of the Fundamental Education Law, which it rammed through the Lower House over strident opposition from all opposition parties. The DPJ is in the process of determing its strategy for resisting the bill, as well as attacking Abe on a range of issues, including the government's reported manipulation of town hall meetings on education policy and Messrs. Aso and Nakagawa's remarks on nuclear weapons.

The opposition's offensive is on hold for the moment, as the governing coalition and the opposition parties have been geared up to contest the 19th November Okinawa gubernatorial election.

The Lower House's passage of the bill was undoubtedly a defeat for the opposition, but some in the DPJ are hoping that the government's tactics will be rejected at the polls next summer. There's certainly an argument that the Abe Cabinet's aggressive legislative strategy could be presented as consistent with the overall impression that the Abe Cabinet is unfit to govern (previously discussed here). I expect the formation of this election strategy by the DPJ in the coming months, particularly if the government continues to furnish examples that support this picture.

For the moment, however, the LDP enjoys the upper hand.

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