Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who's in control here?

Prime Minister Abe has been bizarrely hospitalized, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yosano admits that Mr. Abe did not name someone to serve as the acting prime minister in his absence.

I guess Aso Taro is too busy getting ready to win the job legally to do his best imitation of Alexander Haig.

Mr. Aso, while still probably the front runner, will have to work harder to win the position than it appeared twenty-four hours ago. Fukuda Yasuo, member of the Machimura faction, has decided to throw his hat into the ring, and with the LDP pushing back the voting date until Sept. 23th, Mr. Fukuda now has more time to round up support among the prefectural chapters while consolidating his position in the parliamentary party. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that pushing the date back benefits Mr. Fukuda at Mr. Aso's expense.

The question I have is whether Mr. Fukuda can count on the Machimura faction completely, or whether there might be room for dissension. Mr. Mori, of course, backs Mr. Fukuda completely, and is undoubtedly thrilled at the prospect of having someone who might actually listen to him at the Kantei. Mr. Machimura, however, appeared hesitant to commit too quickly, stating that he wants to listen to the opinions of the members of his faction before making a decision.

I also think that it is important not to overlook the prefectural chapters, which are already in turmoil following the Upper House election. The costs of avoiding their input could be steep, and I suspect that the way the wind blows from the regions will influence the jockeying in Tokyo. Whether the wind will blow in favor of Mr. Fukuda remains to be seen.

In the midst of all this, the Koizumi Children have shown why they are a non-entity in the party. Short of Mr. Koizumi's returning to the fore, they seem to have no ideas and no standard bearers — and thus no chance of influencing the direction of the LDP, especially now that Mr. Koizumi has totally nixed their efforts to draft him. Between Mr. Fukuda and Mr. Aso, they have no one to back. (Perhaps Mr. Koizumi is sitting back watching his plans to destroy the LDP come to fruition.)

4 comments:

AC said...

Aso is not the front-runner, as he is rightly being blamed for his role in this mess.

If you'll recall, Aso was the first one to come out and offer vocal support for Abe's decision to stay on after the election debacle. He managed to get himself the SecGen position out of that, and he convinced Abe to appoint a bunch of his friends to LDP leadership positions rather than cabinet posts. Abe went along. While Abe thought Aso was his friend, however, Aso was plotting against him, and that became abundantly clear when Aso and Yosano got together and fired MAFF Minister Endo without even consulting with Abe. Abe realized he had been betrayed and was trapped, and he began to despair about the fact that he was not in control of his own cabinet.

Abe's mental state worsened, and he finally came to the realization that he had to quit, regretting the fact that he didn't do so after the election. By knee-capping him, Aso knew he would be able to force Abe out soon, and as SecGen with his cronies in control of the leadership positions in the party, he would be well-placed to stack the deck ahead of a party presidential election. He tried to set it as early as possible, but it got pushed back from the 19th to the 23rd, and the anti-Aso forces -- the people in the party who blame him for the situation -- are beginning to rally around Fukuda.

Andrew Oplas said...

I am hearing that Fukuda should now be considered the front-runner and Aso may fade fast. Aso is even more ideologically rigid than Abe, though his public persona is more attractive.

I would be interested in hearing 'Observing's' thoughts about a Fukuda govt. He is an internationalist and soft on all the issues that we are tired of hearing about (Yasukuni, textbooks, national anthem, even Northern Territories, etc.)

Personally, I think Fukuda is the kind of leader the LDP needs and someone the public will respond well to right now. I think a Fukuda govt., truly a govt. of adults, could easily burst Mr. Ozawa's bubble, and prove to be the DPJ's undoing, especially if they hold to the ridiculous position on operations in the Indian Ocean.

Durf said...

Koizumi has his sexy new think-tank to play with these days; I get the sense he isn't too interested in the LDP game any more.

Anonymous said...

If ac's play-by-play insider's machinations is true then Aso is much worse than even his strongest detractors think he is. It will be a great day when the LDP is rid of this ass-hole.