Thursday, June 5, 2008

Here comes a censure motion

The power to pass a non-binding censure motion in the upper house has been burning a hole in the DPJ's pocket since the moment it took control of the House of Councillors, and it looks like the DPJ will finally make good on its threat to use it against the Fukuda government.

For those keeping score at home, the DPJ has threatened to pass censure motions in opposition to the use of Article 59 to pass the new anti-terror law, against Ishiba Shigeru for his ministry's handling of the Atago incident, and against the government's use of Article 59 to pass the road construction plan in the HR a second time. The DPJ has yet to follow through on any of these threats.

The significance of an HC censure motion remains unknown, but limited.

Nevertheless, it looks as if the DPJ will make good on its threat and pass a motion against the prime minister on 11 June, in the hope that waiting until next Wednesday will give the DPJ time to pass desired legislation related to compensation for the victims of Aum Shinrikyo and asbestos exposure.

The trigger is reportedly the government's revisions of the new eldercare system — regarding which the HC has just passed a bill calling for scrapping the new system — but this censure motion isn't really about the eldercare system. The eldercare system is simply the last opportunity the DPJ has to pass a censure motion before the term ends. As MTC has argued convincingly, the government has acted quite sensibly in responding to criticism of the new system, while the DPJ has opted for the shortcut of simply demanding a reversion to the old system. Presumably a censure motion should be used to, you know, censure the government for something it has done wrong.

This is politicking, plain and simple. Ozawa Ichiro continues to believe that when the HC passes a censure motion, the political world will shake. The government will fall, an election will be held, and the DPJ will sweep into power. He assumes that because this has never happened before, "this is an extreme state of affairs." More likely is that the talk shows and the newspapers will be abuzz about the censure motion for a day or two, the Diet session will end, and attention will shift to the G8 summit.

Perhaps it's best that the DPJ go ahead and pass the motion, so that the non-binding censure motion will lose its mystique and the DPJ can stop trotting out the threat every time the government does something that the DPJ doesn't like.


Bryce said...


The DPJ can make up all the extra-constitutional definitions for their activities they like, if it keeps them entertained. Wish as hard as they might, Fukuda is not the 'president' of Japan and the only vote that counts as far as his job is concerned is the one in the lower house.

Nothing to see here.

MTC said...

bryce -

For the political junkie, however there will be the twisted sense of euphoria at having lived long enough to witness the House of Councillors actually passing a censure motion--something it has failed to do in ten tries since 1992.