Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Apparently Fukuda isn't just sounding like the DPJ — he's actually using slogans that DPJ leaders used sometime ago.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Ozawa Ichiro joked about Mr. Fukuda's "self-reliance and harmony" slogan, saying that he had been using it from years before, back in 1993 when he left the LDP to create the Shinseito. Hatoyama Yukio also said that his former Democratic Party had used a similar formulation as one of its principles.

Joking aside, I think this just goes to show the threat posed to the DPJ by Mr. Fukuda's increasingly likely premiership. While the LDP and the DPJ are still expected to clash on foreign policy, especially on the extension of the MSDF mission in the Indian Ocean — Mr. Fukuda emphasized yesterday that "discussion is not the same as cooperation" — in general the softer domestic approach advocated by the front runner will make it that much harder for the DPJ to characterize itself as anything other than a "calorie off" LDP.

Mr. Ozawa will no doubt continue to push for a general election, but as the new cabinet forms and sets to work, his calls will likely become less and less effective as the momentum that the DPJ has enjoyed dissipates, at least for the time being. Sooner or later the DPJ will have to put its Upper House majority for something other than saying no.


JanneM said...

Well, DPJ _is_ LDP-lite, and that's not going to change. Kind of pointless to have an opposition party occupying the same conservative area on the political spectrum, where most all substantial policies are the same. It seems the only real matter of disagreement is exactly who should be in control of the government, not what the government should actually do.

Japan Observer said...

I don't think the DPJ is destined to always be LDP-lite — there is room for a new vision of Japanese governance, particularly as the LDP becomes a smaller tent.

That said, the DPJ isn't there yet.

JanneM said...

Fair enough; I was thinking more of having both dominant parties occupy the same end of the political spectrum at a time when you are seeing a shift towards a two-party system. With both big parties being conservative (and largely the same brand of conservatism) you leave a lot of voters without a credible home. You end up having to choose the "least bad" of two options, neither of which is representing your viewpoints, or not vote at all. I'm afraid you're going to see participation decrease a lot further.

As an aside, this is of course always the risk whenever you reduce your options to a two-party system; you end up with two entities "triangulating" the current issues and tracking a median point in the electorate. That means an impoverishment in the range of offered political positions. You can be socially liberal but fiscally conservative, for example; or socialist and militaristic; or whatever. With only two options, you basically have to rank order your beliefs and accept that you can't vote for somebody that embodies your less important positions if you also want somebody who represents your more important.