Monday, December 3, 2007

Surmounting decay

MTC, in a post on Japanese democracy that references this recent post, argues, "Right now Japan's democracy is just sitting down, frazzled and panting."

There's not much I can add to this excellent post, other than that if this era is, as some (Mr. Ozawa especially) have suggested, the third paradigm shift for modern Japan following the the Meiji Restoration and the postwar occupation, then Japan may be reaching the nadir of its fortunes, just as the Tokugawa shogunate, beset by naiyu gaikan proved increasingly unable to deal with both the encroaching West and increasingly brazen daimyo. Mr. Ozawa may fancy himself a latter-day Yoshida Shoin, schooling a generation of leaders who will lead Japan into a new era — just read the beginning of his recent book Ozawaism — but I suspect that Mr. Ozawa is deceiving himself.

As suggested in an article in Liberal Time, Mr. Ozawa's "permanent address" is the LDP, making the DPJ his "current residence." It is unlikely that the breakthrough that Japan's political system needs will come from Mr. Ozawa or others of his generation, LDP or DPJ, because the worldview of their generation is, in MTC's words, "Movement and heat are antithetical to the pure political operator, who has to know that what he secured today will be unchanged when he comes back to it again in a year. Calculation and cowardice devour all; democracy becomes a numbers game."

It is therefore not surprising to see that the DPJ has struggled to rise above merely responding to opportunities handed it by the LDP to articulate a vision for Japan rooted in democracy and openness.

After reading MTC's post, it's hard be optimistic about the prospects for political change in the near term, because piecemeal solutions do not seem to be the answer.


tornados28 said...

Japan goes through leaders to quickly. Why is it that Prime Ministers in England can lead the nation for 8, 10, 12 years or more while in Japan, it is a major acheivement if a Prime Minister lasts for 6 years.

Even an unpopular leader should be given at least 4 or 5 years to lead.

Bryce said...

Yeah, keeping Abe in certainly would have solved the deadlock problem by 2009.

What I find vaguely amusing about all this is that the stipulations for an upper house in the constitution were made at the behest of conservative Japanese Cabinet members after they were handed the American draft. In fact, it was the first objection they made, precisely because they felt that parliamentary stability was a GOOD thing. As I've mentioned before, I'm not sure I disagree with the notion.