The End of the DPJ?

It is somewhat sad. A case where the promise of change has evaporated in the face of the white heat of bureaucratic intransigence. On the other hand, it was certainly one of the more likely outcomes. As usual i feel a fool for having been even remotely optimistic. Japanese politics is a cruel game…

Over at the Shisaku blog, there is some hand wringing, and it’s not hard to sympathize. In the end it realistically comes down to this:

“Why not hold an election then? If all the first-termers and lefties fry, so what? We will just take our place at the table as the Noda Faction of the LDP.”

A level of cynicism and disregard for public service that you almost have to admire… still, have to hope that the public at least see some sport in trying to break Abe again. One might reasonable suggest that there are tough times ahead for japanese progressives – it’s going to be a long slog through the wilderness while the rightwing popularism sweeps the nation back to the dawn of the Meiji era.

Edit: as an aside, i have some sympathy with the idea that Japan should attempt to become a more normal state (one of the popularist goals) but very little sympathy with the idea that imperialist throwbacks like Abe, Aso, Ishihara, Hashimoto, et al. are the means to achieve such a normalization.

All they want is a de facto remilitarization (via constitutional change) of Japan. This seems like suicide in a region dominated by a resurgent China. And as the voice of progressives is essentially inaudible over the blaring sirens of these blowhards, more radical options to achieve a regional power balance aren’t even discussed. Improved relations / cooperation with China and the Koreas are unquestionably the only way forward, but that is trumped by the right’s (unachievable) desire to return to empire, and need for the US to maintain a client state as counter-balance to China.

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Good Questions for Noda

Over at Shisaku, Michael Cucek asks some good questions about what happens next. This one especially is a puzzler:

Does a rush to the bond market, heartened by Noda’s message of a reduction of Japan’s deficts (reducing the debt is not a realistic prospect) send the stock market into a tailspin?

It’s a good question but there are massive contradictions to deal with here. While sending out a message that basically says “we’ll increase the tax base (eventually) to reduce the deficit”, Noda is signalling that he’s in favour of weakening the Yen. In any rational world the Yen should be going to hell, and yet somehow (hmm, what could it be?! An export economy, importing the majority of it’s raw materials priced in dollars, perhaps?) the Yen, along with the Swiss Franc, is stronger than ever. The FT reports today that the Yen is now 47% higher against than it was in 2008. Ouch.

It seems things are not entirely reality based. The US and Europe are in a desperate race to the bottom, and Japan really can’t compete in the financial armageddon stakes. My guess is that Noda will be forced to live with a strong yen, and a high debt level. Meanwhile something with force of the PIIGS into a default, bondholders will (with bad grace) eat their loses, and lash out, bring down all sorts of mayhem on all our heads. At the end of all this Japan will still owe it’s citizens a bunch of money, but not much else will change there.

The adage about the futility of betting against the Yen is likely to hold a little longer…