The challenge facing the next chief cabinet secretary and the Abe cabinet as a whole is, of course, the drafting of compromise legislation that forces the DPJ to choose between playing a constructive policy role and opposing the government in a manner that will force the government to rule solely on the back of its super-majority and prompt public disapproval. Nikai, Mainichi suggests, has a “pipeline” to Ozawa from their time together in the ragtag coalition that governed from 1993-1994, which might be used to undercut the DPJ’s position.
I remain convinced, of course, that Prime Minister Abe, lacking the confidence of people and party, is doomed sooner or later, but it’s not difficult to imagine that the combination of a new prime minister and an adroit Diet manager like Nikai could revive the LDP’s fortunes enough to take the wind out of Ozawa’s sails and prompt doubts to return about the DPJ’s viability.
But none of that will be possible without a new prime minister. Every step Mr. Abe takes seems to be the wrong one, the latest being this belated announcement — noted by MTC — of the postponement of the start of the autumn extraordinary Diet session to September 10th, giving the prime minister time to travel to the APEC summit in Australia (to say his farewells?) and apparently to give new cabinet members time to prepare.
As Casey Stengel might say if he were still alive and, er, observing Japanese politics, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”