Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Fall Out From Koizumi/Condi Diplomacy Flubs


Koizumi can't destroy the LDP, but he made voters think about it

Under Koizumi's leadership, the diplomatic emphasis on the United States has intensified, and the Japan-U.S. alliance is stronger than at any time in the past. However, dealings with Asian nations have been lacking in prudence, leading to anti-Japanese sentiment at the public level in many of those nations.

The past four years have shown the limits on two aspects of Japanese politics-an LDP that is incapable of responding to the changing times, and a Koizumi who is incapable of truly destroying the LDP.

The past four years have also witnessed an event unprecedented in the half-century history of the LDP-the November 2003 Lower House election.

In that election, the LDP won 237 seats against 177 for opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan). The number of seats won by Minshuto was the largest ever for an opposition party running against the LDP.

The interesting development in that election is the fact that the Koizumi administration, which boasted one of the highest public support ratings of any LDP government, allowed the largest opposition party to make such major gains.

While a change in the electoral system from a multiseat district system to a single-seat district system is also partly behind that development, it bears watching for future effects.

Koizumi blew into office on the winds of change. He was wildly popular because the Japanese thought he would change things. He didn't. Like Tony Blair, he ran off to DC to kiss up to Bush and all has been downhill since. There is a benefit to all of this: as the American Mighty Wulitzer has been screaming nonstop at the Chinese to revalue their currency, the Japanese have further undermined more than one American industry thanks to their own identical currency manipulations. No one says a word about this.

So now the voters in Japan are getting really restive.

They want change and they want change now, before it is too late.

An Asahi Shimbun poll held to mark Constitution Day, the national holiday being observed today, found that a growing percentage of voters feel it is time to revise the nation's supreme set of laws.

Fifty-six percent of the respondents said the Constitution should be revised, while 33 percent said there was no need.

In 1997, 46 percent of respondents were in favor of revisions. The figure rose to 47 percent in 2001 and 53 percent last year.

In contrast, percentages of those who oppose revisions decreased from 39 percent in 1997 to 36 percent in 2001 and 35 percent last year.

The disasterous diplomatic fumbles of the Koizumi/Condi dual attempt at interfering with internal Chinese politics by siding with the ruling faction in Taiwan who came in under a very close election, the Japanese voters can connect some frightening dots, namely, this rash activity can cause a world war. Very understandably, much of Japan is leery about world wars. They know how nukes work and don't want to see this again. This rising of the temperature in the China Seas has gotten many voters upset enough to maybe take some responsibility for what Japan does instead of passively doing whatever they are told. Right now, they have been told, "If you support America they will allow us to cook the currency and have a giant trade deficit!"

Now, this month, Japan is discussing an import quota (which they will control) to "save" GM and Ford from open competition. Of course, this is really a way for Japan and America to conspire to lock out Chinese automobiles.

Which raises the heat. This particular pot will continue to cook.

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