Having stepped out of the news cycle for a day, it might be a bit before I am completely up to speed, but meanwhile I highly recommend this recent post at Shisaku on the DPJ’s approach to rural Japan in advance of this summer’s Upper House elections.
Now there is a word for citizens of a prefecture dependant on government subsidies and handouts who vote against the ruling party.
That word is “stupid”.
Combine this basic “knowing where your rice and fish come from” impetus–based a promise the government knows it does not have to honor–with the Abe Clique’s special message of loving the Emperor, patriotism, traditional gender roles and respect for the nation’s honored dead (remember the demographics of the rural areas are strongly titled toward the elderly) and you have a potent, almost omnipotent electoral strategy in the single-seat districts that the DPJ can only bang its poor little pointed head upon.
I concur wholly with Shisaku. Despite efforts by Ozawa to reach out to rural Japan (see the strong emphasis on agriculture in his recent book, Ozawaism), I strongly doubt that rural Japan can be “turned” from the LDP prior to the dramatic transformation of the Japanese political system. The LDP was, is, and will, after Koizumi’s failure, continue to be the party of rural Japan. As I argued here, that will likely be unsustainable in the long term, but in the short term, the LDP will undoubtedly have no problem securing the support of rural voters, thanks to the combination of a more buoyant economy and a prime minister who seems wholly indifferent to the idea of making the LDP a modern, urban party.
In the process, however, by drawing the DPJ to the countryside in an effort to try to outspend the LDP, the LDP may well destroy the DPJ, or at least its soul, making it look ever more like the LDP’s shadow (and thus unelectable, because why vote for an LDP copy when you have the real thing).