Thursday, June 3, 2010

Not such a dark horse

It has all been too pat and too fast the resignation of Yukio Hatoyama and expected appointment of Naoto Kan as Japan's next PM. The Japanese newspapers yesterday were reporting that the new DPJ party leader will be selected, the PM elected by the Diet, and new Cabinet unveiled all on Friday. Heck of a busy day. And then, on Monday, the new PM Kan will give a policy speech to the Diet! 

This was not a casual thought.

The informed betting is that the "dark horse" candidate for PM Shinju Tarutoko will become DPJ party secretary general replacing Ozawa. He is one of the so-called Seven Magistrates who claim their were troubled by Hatoyama and objected to Ozawa. His candidacy for PM was less serious than merely a quick and dirty public relations move. How else do you get interest in and a quick spotlight on a Matsushita Institute-trained, environment-interested technocrat? He almost could be a white man...

While in DC making the rounds of the important people back in February, Tarutoko was a bit more equivocal. He would not quite identify himself as a Seven Magistrate (I know, as I was probably the only one who asked him). He is, however, considered an Ozawa lieutenant and is conservative like Maehara and Nagashima. Among the American Alliance managers and their Japanese friends, he is viewed as a "safe", educable, and thoughtful member of the DPJ. 

They like him. He is interested in collective security. He thinks the US and Japan can cooperate on climate security. He can mumble English.

Kan is best known in Japan as "Inemuri-Kan (Dozing Kan)." He apparently falls asleep a lot. With Tarutoko as party leader and Ozawa in the shadows, he might want to stay awake. Kan has more liberal proclivities than either man. One wonders if this progression of idealistic to liberal leaders is a strategy to disillusion voters with the more socially conscious, peace-loving arm of the DPJ. Maybe, Ozawa's creative destruction of the DPJ to eventually jettison extremes is at play. 

For Americans fixated on the Alliance and Futenma, no matter who is PM, the current roadmap will be kept, but it is unworkable. It is not that Okinawa is powerful. It has only 4 Lower House votes. And Main Island Japanese care little for their plight. However, the discussion of why does Japan need US troops on its soil has started. And it will get ugly again when Okinawans throw themselves in front of trucks and bulldozers. Thus, Washington should not feel too victorious for sticking to its plan. Even a more "conservative" Japanese government is going to have its own ideas about security. These too are unlikely to reflect American interests or concerns.

1 comment:

  1. No "yes we Kan!" or kick the Kan? We're not in Kan's Ass anymore would have been great. Ho hum. You Kan't always get what you want.


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