The imperious Mr. Ozawa

I’m with MTC: the “can the DPJ govern” meme has been beaten to death.

The DPJ is here and it will in all likelihood be the largest party in the HC for at least the next six years. No amount of griping about the DPJ’s unsuitability will change that. Even if the “realignment” happens, the change may be more in the way of “population transfers” than name changes.

For all of my own griping, I want to see the DPJ succeed. The LDP needs to lose and spend a substantial amount of time in opposition, if only to resolve its internal battles and allow the political system to move beyond the 1955 system permanently.

It is for that reason that I’m annoyed by Ozawa Ichiro’s latest gaffe, his leaving HR deliberations on the anti-terror bill before it came to a vote.

As before, Hatoyama Yukio, DPJ secretary-general, has apologized for the DPJ president’s behavior.

Why, I wonder, is Mr. Ozawa not apologizing himself? Would it hurt his party if he acted more modestly?

Between this incident, his disappearance on election night, his meetings with Prime Minister Fukuda, and his aborted resignation (embarrassing for the DPJ due to his being begged to return by party leaders), I find his arrogance hard to stomach. One could also add his policy shifts on the refueling mission, which have forced DPJ rank-and-file to shift positions to follow their leader just like Stalinists were forced to shape their arguments around pronouncements issued from the Kremlin, no matter how much they contradicted previous positions.

By acting imperiously and appearing to be accountable to no one, Mr. Ozawa gives the DPJ’s enemies — those writers who provide a constant stream of articles for the conservative monthlies, for example — ammunition with which to undermine the DPJ. The more impetuous and uncontrollable Mr. Ozawa seems, the more the DPJ appears to be weak and subject to its leader’s “dictatorial” control.

Mr. Ozawa’s imperiousness may yet help the DPJ take power. He may yet impose discipline on a party that has been unruly since it first formed in the mid-1990s. The Japanese voters may have finally lost patience with the LDP, meaning that they’re willing to forgive the DPJ no matter what Mr. Ozawa does.

But why does Mr. Ozawa have to make it easier for his party’s rivals to question its ability to govern?

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