Friday, February 22, 2008

A Koizumi comeback in the making?

On Thursday I wrote that the fight within the LDP over administrative reform may be an opportunity for marginalized Koizumians to regain influence within the party.

It appears that they may be getting some heavyweight support: from Koizumi Junichiro himself.

Sankei observes that in the new year, Mr. Koizumi has been more active on behalf of his supporters, and wonders whether Mr. Koizumi's recent activities are part of the general ferment in Japanese politics.

His most recent appearance was a speech Friday evening at a seminar organized by HR member Hagiuda Koichi. According to Mr. Koizumi's office, this appearance was his first address at a Diet member's meeting since the end of his time as prime minister.

His message was one of caution. While some in the LDP may be encouraged by his remarks suggesting that there is no rush to hold a general election, others may be less than pleased with his endorsement of Prime Minister Fukuda's cooperative stance. While he called on the opposition to submit its own bills, especially on the gasoline tax/road construction issue, he also said that the LDP must be prepared to negotiate on a revised bill. Asahi reports that he also cautioned the government against overusing the HR supermajority.

Is this the beginning of Mr. Koizumi's second coming?

Sankei seems breathless at the prospect: "If Mr. Koizumi, his popularity undiminished even now, raises his voice, the political situation will immediately become fluid and anything will be possible. This being the case, we should not divert our eyes from these activities."

Mr. Koizumi, of course, provided no hints as to his plans at this juncture, saying only "my present role is supporting young people."

If Mr. Koizumi is thinking of returning, will the LDP welcome him back, considering how far it has distanced itself from his ideas and his adherents in the seventeen months since his premiership ended? Or would Mr. Koizumi follow in the footsteps of Theodore Roosevelt and form a new "progressive" party to stand on an undiluted reformist platform? What would both the LDP and the DPJ do in the event of a Koizumian "Bull Moose" campaign that tapped into the frustrations and hopes symbolized by the nascent and growing Sentaku movement? Depending on the LDP's success in shoring up its support in rural Japan — still an open question as far as I can see — the DPJ would likely suffer the most in a general election, once again being forced to run against Mr. Koizumi's reformism in urban Japan. I suppose there's the possibility that the DPJ and a Koizumian party could split urban and suburban seats and then form a coalition government that would marginalize an LDP increasingly limited to rural areas. (And how long would that rural support last with the LDP in opposition and thus stripped of the ability to transfer money?)

For the time being, this scenario remains a fantasy, but it is certainly a more plausible scenario than the scenario of a "true" conservative party led by Hiranuma Takeo playing anything more than a marginal role in a post-realignment political environment.


Anonymous said...

1. Koizumi had and has unfortunately not very clear ideas, not to speak about the ability to implement reforms.
2. LDP did never embrace these vague notions but used him, sucessfully, to stay in power.
3. DPJ is now the populist rural party and LDP an embrace-all party with a vague and inconsistent ideas of reforms and "caring" society.
4. Koizumi would notbe willing no able to remake himself but could maybe be convinced to stand as the front figure for some one else

Willie said...


The LDPers I've seen on TV or read in papers have been decidedly less than "caring". And the only reforms they seem to favor are fairly harsh for the majority of citizens, though perhaps generous to financial interests.

If you can provide some examples, I'd be glad to hear them.