Who won the battle over postal reform?

On Saturday, Koga Makoto, the LDP’s chief election strategist, announced that the party’s candidate in Gifu-1 will be Noda Seiko, a former postal minister ousted from the party as a postal rebel in the summer of 2005 and readmitted to the party in December 2006. The dispute was over whether the party would give the nomination to Ms. Noda or to Sato Yukari, one of Mr. Koizumi’s assassins.

In accordance with stated policy, the reason for Ms. Noda’s receiving the nomination was on the basis of her “objectively” being able to win — apparently because she has won five elections.

Ms. Sato (or should I say Dr., on the basis of her Ph.D. in Economics from NYU?), having been elected only once, simply could not compete on that criteria.

In case anyone still thought that the LDP is the party of Koizumi Junichiro, this is yet another example that the real winner in the summer 2005 showdown over postal privatization was neither Mr. Koizumi and his band of reformers nor the postal rebels (after all, privatization is going forward), but the party elders who forced Mr. Koizumi to accept amendments to the bills to make them more palatable to the party’s risk-averse and cowardly members. Recall the 28 June 2005 LDP executive council meeting when Kyuma Fumio, then chair of the council, forced a vote on the amendments without first achieving a consensus. Mr. Koizumi ended up getting his (amended) legislation and winning a major election victory, expelling the die hards in the process, but upon his leaving office control of the party passed back into the hands of the risk-averse elders, who are now prepared to erase the remaining traces of the Koizumi legacy.

Mr. Koizumi may ultimately get the last laugh — indeed, I suspect that he’s been laughing to himself for the past year — because the LDP may be on the brink of destroying itself. But for the moment, the party elders are in control, and will continue to run the LDP as they know best, for the time being anyway.

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