Monday, May 7, 2007

Muddled thinking on the DPJ

The Asahi Shimbun has published yet another editorial urging the Democratic Party of Japan to be more forthright in confronting the Abe Cabinet in the Diet.

The occasion for this editorial was Ozawa Ichiro's completion of a second tour of the country's regions as part of his electoral strategy of building up the DPJ's support structure from the ground up.

While Asahi concedes that Ozawa's strategy may well have contributed to the DPJ's successes in last month's local elections, the editorial voices the newspaper's continuing frustration with the Ozawa DPJ's lack of direct confrontation with the government.

As I previously discussed here, I am not altogether convinced that the DPJ has much to gain from head-to-head clashes with the government. Consider the record this year. The new Diet term began with the resignation of Tsunoda Giichi, which, together with revelations about Ozawa's plans to build a dormitory for political aides and Nakai Hiroshi's admission to committing the same wrongdoing as Agriculture Minister Matsuoka Toshikatsu, undermined the DPJ's ability to take the ruling coalition for the financial improprieties of LDP members. Aside from that, on what grounds could the DPJ have laid a major blow on the government? The inequality issue seems to have been a non-starter (although it may yet play a role in this summer's Upper House election).

Why does the DPJ have no position from which to attack the government?

Because, despite all the fanfare, Ozawa's efforts to impose policy discipline on the DPJ have fizzled. It remains as fractious as ever, divided between old Socialists and young hawks, and on the fundamental question of constitution revision, its basic policy document contains the mealy-mouthed compromise that the party takes no specific position on constitution revision, pending specific proposals.

And that's supposed to inspire public support for the DPJ?

Given that engaging in policy debates will simply expose the fault lines within the DPJ, the party is better off going to the people directly, campaigning the old-fashioned way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with this post: policy confrontation is not the way for the DPJ to go (although LDP politicians are more more divided on policy/ideological issues than are DJP politicians).
But two points are worth noting:
1) citizens do not vote according to their policy preferences in most elections
2) the LDP and DPJ median positions are so similar that confrontation is rendered meaningless