Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's Kan

In the DPJ leadership election today, Kan beat Ozawa - and pretty handily too. He got just over half of Diet member votes, 60% of the prefectural chapter votes and over 80% of individual member votes.

The DPJ Diet was evenly split between them, which at first blush would seem like a party breakup just waiting to happen. But the large overweight of chapter and especially individual votes should convince the Ozawa supporters that the party - and the lower house election voters - are not with them on this, and that a defection or split would risk their own Diet seats.

Ozawa would seem to be finished. He's old, he's in failing health, he's under police investigation and he's just lost his last, best hope of becoming Prime minister. But he's been written off so many times only to come back that he's one hockey mask away from being a grumpy political horror-movie cliché.

So Kan wins - what does it mean? Not much. Kan stands for a continuation of the current policies whereas Ozawa would have meant a minor shift. Kan is reluctantly in favour of the US base move to Futenma, but that looks like a completely dead issue, what with all relevant Okinawan political offices populated by a majority of opponents to the move. Kan seems more reluctant than Ozawa to divest power away from Tokyo and to the regions, but the emergence of strong regional politicians in combination with the never-ending circus that is Japanese national politics may force his hand.

And while he got through this scrape OK, he still has 167 days to go to avoid becoming the next record holder for shortest prime ministership. When you consider recent Japanese political history those 167 days are by no means a given.


februaryfour said...

Heh, entertaining. By the way, the record holder for Shortest Prime Ministership is Naruhiko Higashikuni, who was PM for 54 days, so I think Kan is safe. (Source: http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/explore/government/q7.html )

Janne Morén said...

Well, I'd be hesitant to count him, or any wartime cabinet (it was technically after the end of the war, but in the midst of the post-war military occupation). After all, normal political rules were suspended and the situation completely different from that of normal peace-time cabinets.

For the purpose of this competition I would not count anyone who dies on their post either, or that leaves for genuine family reasons, since it's not a reflection of their (dis-)abilities as prime minister or as politicians.