The party issued a report reviewing the past year and stating policies for 2008, which, as reported by Mainichi, revealed discrepancies between Mr. Ozawa, who has continued to justify the logic of a grand coalition between the DPJ and the DPJ, and the bulk of his party, which believes, as noted in the new document, “The whole party affirmed that the DPJ will defeat the LDP in a general election and reject a coalition with the LDP.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ozawa, giving his annual New Year’s greetings at his home in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward, reiterated the party’s desire to claim a majority in the House of Representatives in the general election that may or may not be held this year and its focus on ensuring a “stable livelihood and safe society” for the Japanese people.
I detect a slight change in focus in recent DPJ statements, away from the pocketbook aspect of “lifestyle” issues and to political issues. The DPJ may finally be turning its disorganized criticism of the government’s various failings into a universal critique of LDP rule that looks beyond individual sins to identify structural problems. The more the DPJ makes LDP misrule the issue (and explains how it will fix the system), the better the DPJ’s chances in a general election, because misrule affects all Japanese, urban, suburban, or rural. Of course, it is important to remember that since the DPJ will be running candidates in at most 250 of 300 districts (compared to the LDP’s 280), there is a ceiling on what the DPJ can achieve on its own in the next election.
Nevertheless, if the DPJ manages to shift its approach and make good governance an important (or the most important) pillar of its emphasis on lifestyle issues, I think its prospects will improve. The challenge is to be more than just a irritant for the LDP, to become a loud, clear voice for political change that will benefit all Japanese.