Is the government trying to lose the election?

Facing criticism about his government’s decision to postpone discussion about the consumption tax to the autumn, Prime Minister Abe has decided that instead of doing his best George H.W. Bush impersonation — “read my lips” — he has decided to be ambivalent: “I will not say that we will not raise the consumption tax rate.”

Meanwhile, Akagi Norihiko, the late Mr. Matsuoka’s successor as MAFF minister, is running into his own political funds problem. Mr. Akagi claimed rent expenses for a campaign office in his father’s home that his father said was never used, raising the obvious question as to what happened to the money claimed as office expenses. (Anyone wonder what he did to anger his father?) I, for one, am not surprised by this report. As I wrote when Akagi was appointed, when there were already indications of inappropriate ties with supporters, “No cabinet-eligible LDP politician has clean hands.” The opposition is already demanding his resignation. And Mr. Abe is already making excuses for him.

This is the government that is going into the elections: a government that learns of lost pensions and then covers it up, is full of corrupt ministers protected by the prime minister until he begins to feel the pain politically, makes excuses for the US atomic bombings (mind you, this is less a problem for me than it is for the Japanese people), has backed away from further structural reform, and has dishonestly put off discussing sensitive policy matters until after the election.

If the opposition cannot secure a large majority in the Upper House facing a government with this record, we might as well resign ourselves to another fifty years of uninterrupted LDP governments.

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