This Week in Japan is your source for news and information about politics and other happenings in this East Asian island country. This episode covers the Top Five stories of the final week of August 2017.
An usually interesting gubernatorial race is shaping up in Shizuoka Prefecture, with sources confirming yesterday that opposition-supported Heita Kawakatsu will be running for a third term in office.
The Democratic Party’s labor union backers are throwing a wrench into political strategy.
The script has all the right drama: Two former Japanese prime ministers, deeply disappointed by their bungling successors, rise from comfortable retirement to do political battle once more. And, yes, there is good cause too.
Since its foundation in August 2009, Yoshimi Watanabe’s Your Party has been a bit player, but usually an interesting one. What set Your Party apart from a host of many other short-lived outfits was its relatively clear policy identity. This was the party of free enterprise, neoliberal economics, deregulation, and limited, preferably decentralized, government.
There’s one thing that all of Japan’s significant, existing opposition parties seem to agree upon; and that’s that none of them have any hope of overthrowing Liberal Democratic Party rule on their own in the presumed double elections of July 2016. They must combine their forces in some new manner in order to present a credible alternative that people might actually vote for.
What follows is a party-by-party survey of what these elections mean for the twelve largest political parties in Japan. The ruling party’s 65-seat pick up was not all that it could have hoped for in light of the sky-high approval ratings of the Abe Cabinet, but it was definitely good enough to provide the basis of a stable government for the next three years.
The fact that the Liberal Democratic Party avenged its defeat of four years ago and recaptured power in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly was virtually a given in light of the Abe administration’s sky-high popularity and general momentum in the first half of 2013. But there were some notable subplots that revealed truths about the opposition parties, giving us a window into what to expect in next month’s House of Councillors elections.
Some of the shine has come off Abenomics in the last month or so, perhaps representing little more than a hiccup on the way to greater success, or perhaps representing the vast turning of the tide.
Times of tragedy are not something to be welcomed, but they are occasions within which able political leaders can thrive and fulfill their destiny. In ordinary times, of course, it is beneficial to have the coherence and sense of direction that strong leadership can bring, but during a severe national crisis ― when the public is confused and afraid ― these dynamic qualities become little short of necessary. How miserable it is, therefore, that Prime Minister Naoto Kan has signally failed to measure up to the challenge.