High spirits in Yokohama

In the exceedingly brief pause between the just-finished special session of the Diet and the regular session of the Diet scheduled to begin tomorrow, both the LDP and the DPJ have held their party conventions.

The message at the DPJ convention in Yokohama was simple: “Now is the time for realizing regime change and making the people’s life number one.” All of its efforts will strain to this end at least all efforts but for Mr. Ozawa’s being amiable, as he continued to insist that there is no need to apologize for leaving the Diet early last Friday, as his activities as party leader are his own concern. He also reminded voters that he will stake his political career on the outcome of a general election.

Finally, the DPJ has, as noted by MTC, made a big show of opposing talk by the Fukuda government that it will consider extending the temporary gasoline surcharge this session. Once again the LDP has given the DPJ a gift that makes it that much easier for the DPJ to oppose the government. What opposition party wouldn’t love to be able to oppose an onerous tax in a year that will likely see a general election?

While the gasoline tax issue gives the DPJ an issue with which to speak for all Japanese, the DPJ has formalized its plans to reorient itself to urban Japan, noting the influence of major cities in general election results.

If the DPJ can limit its own infighting and avoid making serious mistakes that raise questions about its ability to govern, the party is well-placed to score a major victory in a general election — while a majority of its own may be hard to achieve, it could deprive the divided LDP of not just its supermajority, but also of a simple majority.

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