Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yosano speaks

According to Sankei, Yosano Kaoru, the former chief cabinet secretary shaping up to be a major contender to succeed Fukuda Yasuo, will be releasing his first book next week, entitled Dōdōtaru Seiji (perhaps best translated as Bold Politics).

Mr. Yosano's message is that Japan's leaders must be willing to exert all efforts to do what's right, without regard for the popularity of a measure. Not surprisingly, Mr. Yosano is a tireless advocate for an increase in the consumption tax rate. Sankei also notes that Mr. Yosano calls for the promotion of "mild reforms" to unify society, correcting, according to Nikkei, the "strains" of the Koizumi-Abe years. No indication what that means in practical terms; hopefully the book contains a few more details.

As I noted earlier this week, Mr. Yosano has tried to be coy about his plans in the post-Fukuda era. After publishing a book outlining his vision of governance, it will be hard for him to deny that he has higher ambitions. We can expect more brief articles outlining one aspect or another of his thinking as reporters pepper him with questions.

While I'll reserve full judgment until I read the book — if I read the book — it's not entirely clear to me how this Yosano line would differ from the Fukuda line, other than a willingness to tackle the consumption tax issue head on (and presumably commit political suicide on it if necessary). The LDP's problems are structural. It is a party without an identity in an era in which it actually has to stand for something other than holding power. While genuinely bold and risky decisions by an LDP leader might provide the LDP with a new identity, especially said leader was willing to oust dissenters and purify the party, "mild reform" just sounds like more evasion, an attempt to soften axes of conflict to ensure that the LDP's various schools of thought can cooperate in order to save the party form itself.

The breaking point is coming sooner or later. It's just a question of what issue proves decisive in forcing a splintering — and which group acts first.


MTC said...

Japan Observer -

Not knowing the content of the bood, Dodotaru seiji (堂々たる政治) would probably be better translated as "politics with gravitas."

Japan Observer said...


Thank you. It's hard to guess, because there are hints that he might be referring to "boldness." Calling unabashedly for a consumption tax increase seems bold to me, anyway.