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Friday, Sept. 10, 2010


Different strokes of the DPJ

As the Democratic Party of Japan's presidential election campaign has passed the halfway point, the differences in political style between the two candidates — Prime Minister Naoto Kan and former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa — have become clear. On some points, however, they both remain fuzzy.

Mr. Kan appears to favor a setup that takes into account various opinions from within the DPJ before the Cabinet makes a final decision. Mr. Ozawa clearly favors a system in which the Cabinet would monopolize power to make decisions, with the prime minister playing a central role.

Mr. Kan's approach may ensure transparency, but it also may result in slow decision making when speed is required. Mr. Ozawa's approach may fit when the government faces a drastic decision, but it could lead to a dictatorial and arbitrary style.

To overcome the impasse in the Upper House, Mr. Kan appears to want to get cooperation from opposition forces case by case. Mr. Ozawa seems to prefer securing a permanent coalition partner from among the opposition forces.

On fighting deflation, Mr. Kan says that creating new jobs in such fields as medical and nursing services and child-rearing assistance will help pull Japan out of deflation. Mr. Ozawa calls for creating an economy driven more by domestic demand. Both are unclear about how to fill the ¥25 trillion shortage in demand.

As for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa Island, Mr. Kan stresses the importance of faithfully implementing the accord that Japan and the United States reached in May. Mr. Ozawa hints at starting new talks with the U.S. Yet, while Mr. Kan admits that the May accord is unacceptable to Okinawans, Mr. Ozawa admits that he has no concrete plan to solve the issue.

Gov. Moriyuki Kato of Ehime Prefecture summed up the campaign: Mr. Ozawa fosters great expectations and great worries; Mr. Kan generates neither great expectations nor great worries. Eligible voters in the Sept. 14 DPJ presidential poll bear the great responsibility of selecting Japan's next prime minister.

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