At a press conference on Tuesday, Ozawa Ichiro joked about Mr. Fukuda’s “self-reliance and harmony” slogan, saying that he had been using it from years before, back in 1993 when he left the LDP to create the Shinseito. Hatoyama Yukio also said that his former Democratic Party had used a similar formulation as one of its principles.
Joking aside, I think this just goes to show the threat posed to the DPJ by Mr. Fukuda’s increasingly likely premiership. While the LDP and the DPJ are still expected to clash on foreign policy, especially on the extension of the MSDF mission in the Indian Ocean — Mr. Fukuda emphasized yesterday that “discussion is not the same as cooperation” — in general the softer domestic approach advocated by the front runner will make it that much harder for the DPJ to characterize itself as anything other than a “calorie off” LDP.
Mr. Ozawa will no doubt continue to push for a general election, but as the new cabinet forms and sets to work, his calls will likely become less and less effective as the momentum that the DPJ has enjoyed dissipates, at least for the time being. Sooner or later the DPJ will have to put its Upper House majority for something other than saying no.