Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fleeing a sinking ship?

A week after Nagasaki Kotaro — and his 3600 supporters in Yamanashi's second district — left the LDP, another Koizumi child has bolted the party.

Yamauchi Koichi, a first termer representing Kanagawa's ninth district, had, as discussed in this post, come to recognize the unpleasant situation for reformists in the post-Koizumi LDP. As he said in this post announcing his departure from the LDP, "The current LDP is like a different party from the 'Koizumi LDP' of the general election in 2005." He rejects the backsliding since 2005, and would rather campaign on his own than violate his principles. (Yamamoto Ichita describes Yamauchi, a member of his reform study group, as having a "pure heart.")

In short, Yamauchi may simply have uncommon courage for an LDP politician. He will face a particularly tough reelection fight: the DPJ candidate is Ryu Hirofumi, the incumbent who lost to Yamauchi in 2005 86,673 votes to 82,878 and was resurrected through proportional representation. And that's without considering the possibility that the LDP might send an "assassin" against Yamauchi.

As expected, there appears to be no plan in the works for a large-scale exodus of reformists from the LDP. Instead, it seems that following Tuesday's self-criticism session, the reformists have made a temporary peace with Aso Taro, perhaps following Nakagawa Hidenao's message that the DPJ must be stopped.

In other words, Yamauchi may not be the last reformist to leave the LDP before the general election, but he will most likely not have much company in exile. For many reformists, it seems that likely defeat with the help of LDP resources is preferable to near-certain defeat alone.


Adam said...

The disassociation of regional and national professional organizations from the LDP is another important characteristic of this election. For the first time, the Ibaraki Prefecture Association of Physicians will not endorse ruling-party candidates, nor, and this is quite telling, will the Akita Farmers' Association.

Even the Keidanren has according to this article decided to distance itself from blanket approval of the party. Rather, it will say yay or nay on individual policies. It may not sound like much, but for this LDP stalwart it is close to a seismic shift.

Adam said...

The Asahi article re the Keidanren is: