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Edano and the Rejects


SNA (Tokyo) — So this is how democracy dies—in a painfully boring press conference.

Yukio Edano proved this evening that you can be both too late and too early. Betrayed by the newly-elected Democratic Party leader, and rejected by the new Party of Hope leader, Edano and the liberal rump of the soon-to-be-defunct Democratic Party he represents were too late in making preparations for any political scenario other than business-as-usual, and Edano held his press conference tonight too early to say anything useful.

What is the membership of the Constitutional Democratic Party? Only Edano himself. He’s made no effort to finalize the inaugural line-up, and is apparently coordinated with no other lawmakers at present.

What is the program of the Constitutional Democratic Party? It’s the same as the Democratic Party, but will be “brushed up and made a little more clear.” Broadly, it’s about democracy and playing fair by the rules of the game.

Who is welcome to join the Constitutional Democratic Party? Any lawmaker who wants to join is welcome. Any reject from the Party of Hope or from anywhere else will find an open door.

Will proportional representation candidates be set up? He’s not sure, but he hopes so.

After initial comments lasting about ten minutes, Edano then opened the floor from questions from the hundreds of gathered Japanese news media personnel. He went on to dispassionately answer each and every question about process. What did he say to Rengo chief Rikio Kozu today? When exactly did he tell Seiji Maehara that he was forming a new party?

After about an hour of this, we finally packed up our camera and left. Edano seemed determined to exhaust every single question in the room with a clear, reasonable, and honest answer.

No, No, No, No, NO!

This is a dramatic moment in Japanese political history. Conservatives and rightwingers are trying to perpetrate a fraud upon the Japanese people, creating a new “two party system” that presents only the illusion of choice. Seiji Maehara is a traitor to the party he leads. Yuriko Koike is a rightwing charlatan trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people.

What Edano should be saying in this moment is that he’s angry. He has spent his political lifetime fighting to preserve postwar peace and liberty…

…Now the shadows have grown deep, but we will not be bowed! In these—the darkest of times—the Constitutional Democratic Party will defend the basic freedoms that must be defended! We will never give up the fight against those wish to reimpose tyranny upon the Japanese people! I stand before you to ask for your support—not for myself—but for those future generations of Japanese that depend upon us to preserve the gifts that our own mothers and fathers have bestowed upon us…

But, no, nothing like that. It was more along the lines of, “We will make a better effort to give easier-to-understand policy choices for the people to choose from.”

Both Shinzo Abe and, especially, Yuriko Koike have shown their understanding of the fact that politics is not simply an uber-rational discussion of policies and process, but also contains a necessary element of emotion and vision.

The Democratic Party lies dead today because its leaders—other than Ichiro Ozawa—never seemed to understand what politics is.

Even on Day One of the Constitutional Democratic Party, it is obvious that it will go nowhere under its presumed inaugural leader, Yukio Edano. His big moment has arrived—and he has already failed.

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