Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ozawa, posturing

I was apparently mistaken to think that Mr. Ozawa might use the occasion of a visit to China to find some common ground with Mr. Fukuda by staking out a shared position on Japanese China policy.

Mainichi reports that Mr. Ozawa plans to use the trip as an opportunity to criticize the Fukuda cabinet's approach to a range of issues, from the six-party talks to the Taiwan Straits dispute. It's anyone's guess the direction from which Mr. Ozawa will criticize the government. Will he attack from the right, criticizing the government for not taking a firm stand in support of Taiwan and moving away from support of the abductees? Or will he come from the "left," calling for a more positive contribution to the six-party talks and kowtowing to China on Taiwan?

Meanwhile, the Upper House Management Committee has approved the trip, despite the fact that Mr. Ozawa will be taking twenty-four members of the Upper House with him while the Upper House is still in session. (The group also includes twenty-one Lower House members.) It's not entirely clear to me why he's traveling with such a large group of Diet members, and I think the LDP and Komeito are right to criticize the DPJ for taking a trip this size while the Diet is still in session. Whatever the DPJ thinks of the anti-terror law currently under consideration by the Upper House, it is disrespectful to the legislative process to pull a considerable number of its Upper House caucus out of deliberation.

I am certain Mr. Ozawa sees this as a convenient way to run out the clock to December 15th and hasten the point at which the government has to decide whether to extend the Diet session once more — and it is this kind of posturing that is what's wrong with the political system today.

1 comment:

Bryce said...

"...and it is this kind of posturing that is what's wrong with the political system today."

Really? I think it makes it more fun. We've already been down this path with the role of the prime minister, but how would you revise the constitution to improve things? I think the current system is pretty good. It clearly vests authority in the Lower House, while allowing opposition parties in the Upper House (who, lets face it, were elected too) to vent their frustrations. It doesn't ultimately lead to any impassable deadlocks, if, and that's a big if, the ruling party has the cajones to push contentious bills through.