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Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010
Rising pitch for power
Political maneuvering by groups within the Democratic Party of Japan has become rampant as an election on Sept. 14 of the party's next top leader approaches.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has announced intention to run in the election. There also is a call within the party for former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa to run. Since the the DPJ's next leader will become prime minister, candidates and intraparty groups must be careful so that the runup to the election and the election itself will not become a power struggle devoid of meaningful discussions on policy matters.
Recent moves by DPJ intraparty groups remind one of past power struggles among factions of the Liberal Democratic Party. Various DPJ groups are holding meetings. Last week, some 160 DPJ lawmakers, including Mr. Ozawa, attended a party in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, sponsored by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's group. By attending the party, Mr. Ozawa apparently tried to show his antipathy toward Mr. Kan.
On Monday, Mr. Kan started a three-day meeting with rookie DPJ lawmakers and said he will not dissolve the Lower House in the next three years — an apparent ploy to get support from them by promising that rookie DPJ Lower House members' Diet seats will be secured for the coming three years.
The pro-Kan and pro-Ozawa camps are desperate for support from DPJ members. Irrespective of whether Mr. Ozawa or his proxy candidate will run in the Sept. 14 election, the DPJ must have open and wide discussions on major policy matters the DPJ will tackle as a ruling party.
Mr. Ozawa is angry that Mr. Kan appears to have ditched important parts of the DPJ's election manifesto for last year's Lower House election, which elevated the DPJ to a ruling party.
Mr. Ozawa is right. The Kan administration's main pillar policies are unclear. Mr. Kan must make clear what they are. Although the pro-Ozawa camp calls on the DPJ to stick to the 2009 Lower House election manifesto, it is clear that there are not enough funds to implement it as it was. Mr. Ozawa or his proxy candidate must show ways to get enough funds.