Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How to make Japan more beautiful with just 155 promises

The LDP has released its platform for next month's Upper House elections, 155 promises to build a beautiful country, society, livelihood, and furusato (not to mention "beautifully vigorous regions living in symbiosis with nature" [no. 52]).

As the puerile overuse of the word beautiful [Ed. — At least it's not kawaii (cute); hey, kawaii kuni e has a certain ring to it] suggests, Abe's stamp is all over this document; the promises are similarly vague and all over the map. Just skimming the document, it's immediately apparent to see why the DPJ has a hard time opposing the LDP on policy terms. There's something in here for everyone, and much of it is hard to oppose. I mean, really, is there anyone who is opposed to building a Beautiful Japan? (Ironically, the only ones who might have a problem with it are the LDP-supporting construction companies who have spent decades paving over what actually made Japan a beautiful country.)

The FT's David Pilling, reporting on the platform, notes, "Mr Abe has stuck to his agenda, which critics view as a lurch to the right, in spite of strong evidence that his concerns do not match those of voters." Pilling is wrong, however, in his suggestion that Abe has stuck to his guns on constitution revision in this report. While the first plank calls for the "Promotion of the enactment of a new constitution," the only other plank that seems to mention revision is no. 13, which calls for the rebuilding of the legal foundation for national security.

Sure, constitution revision is in there. That is to be expected. But how many members of the cabinet have been talking about constitution revision lately? The revision issue, which did at one point look like the main focus of the campaign, has dropped off the radar screen, no matter what position it takes in the manifesto. Burying the pension issue at no. 60 does nothing to change the fact that it is, as noted in an Asahi Shimbun article, "issue number one and issue number two."

So while I have only skimmed the document, it does seem that Abe's stamp is all over this document, but less in terms of his "conservative" agenda than the fact that it is twenty-four pages of saccharine mush. It also reiterates much of what has already been said by the government in the past eight months.

That undoubtedly suits the LDP's purposes. Bury the unpleasantness, sugarcoat everything, and just get through the elections with as little damage as possible.

I will write more if I find something of interest upon closer reading.

2 comments:

Kaspian said...

Even if the 155 points are something that the DPJ would have a difficult time in challenging because they're such gosh-darn wonderful ideas, wouldn't it make sense for them to simply question the LDP's ability to pull off these plans in the first place?

Japan Observer said...

Of course — and they will.

But my point is more a matter of skepticism about the supposed emergence of a proper two-party system marked by clear policy divisions, in which leaders of both parties claim to be interested.

This document is a fine illustration that that transition just isn't happening.