Nice interview with Karel Van Wolferen in the 朝日新聞 today:

“Japan has been on autopilot. It has been drifting without a good steering mechanism,” van Wolferen said in a telephone interview. “Sunday will be an opportunity for the electorate to give their country a steering wheel.”

This is obviously the big fear:

Skeptics, past prime ministers among them, have criticized the sharp rhetoric of certain core DPJ members who have gone so far as to vow to “destroy the bureaucracy.”

Van Wolferen said he “understands such concerns.”

One key to the DPJ’s success as a governing party will lie in its “ability to work with bureaucrats in a productive way,” he said. That would involve creating allies within the bureaucracy to convince those in key posts to cooperate with the party’s policies, or at times subtly utilizing rivalries within the bureaucratic structure to push forward policies in the public interest.

“Whether they (DPJ) succeed is a big question,” van Wolferen said, cautioning that the party’s inexperience in dealing with bureaucrats could lead to foot-dragging or sabotage by the latter.

Although, i suspect that if the bureaucracy sees that the times have indeed changed, it will be more open and accommodating. The easiest way to get them to see that is to get an unquestionably convincing win tomorrow, and follow it up with a majority in the upeer house election in 2010.

“Japan should not represent the United States in this region. It should represent itself,” he said, adding that Tokyo should work more closely with its East Asian neighbors, particularly within the so-called ASEAN Plus Three framework, formed by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, South Korea and Japan.

People seems to think that there is no chance that DPJ will do anything in the diplomatic sphere for at least a year – they’ll be tied up at home. However, i suspect there is probably more support for normalising relations with the U.S., rewriting the SOFA, etc. than the press is willing to report. Or maybe i’m projecting…

2 thoughts on “Direction

  1. interesting. Japan changed to the direction that you wanted right? but I have to tell you a regrettable forecast. The DPJ cannot win the fight against the bureaucrat. They don’t have the political technique to win.
    The DPJ acquired a lot of seats in the Parliament this time. However, that 70 percent is a useless politician like “Koizume Children”. A present expectation for the DPJ changes into disappointment very soon. but this is the first step of the substantial change of Japan, for sure.

    and another point,
    Ichiro Ozawa is a key mover of this huge victory. and I promise that Ozawa becomes the maximum cancer in DPJ soon. History saids, “The general who shouldered the huge victory is always dangerous”. and Ozawa is very dangerous man. you’ll see 🙂

    • Everyone seems very determined that i’m not going get to enjoy this, for even a day! 🙂 Bing-bong the witch is dead!

      As much as i’d like to think that ‘breaking the bureaucracy’ is a good idea, realistically what needs to happen is something much more along lines of what happens in most representative democracies… sort of… where the bureaucrats are given direction from the representatives of the people. I completely agree that this battle will not be won by the new blood in the parliament, but i somehow don’t think they’re going to be expected to fight. Piece by piece.

      Ozawa… yeah, he’s an old man. He’s got it all right at the end of his career… what do they do with him? In some ways the best thing would be to have him out running the campaign for the 2010 upper house elections, but then who is going to orchestrate the battle of kasumigaseki?

      ま〜、駄目だったら一揆しかないんじゃない 😉

Wise words...

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