Nakagawa Hidenao, onetime LDP secretary-general under Prime Minister Abe and now the putative leader of the LDP’s Koizumians, has written a series of posts at his blog over the past week, starting with one on 19 July in which he criticized the DPJ for its “former Socialist Party ideology” in its support for collusion among government and labor, its anti-US, anti-US-Japan security treaty, UN-centered foreign policy — for its policies that are, in his words, “at the same time unrealistic and lacking in persuasive power for the popular will.”
He followed it up with a post on 20 July in which he discussed the DPJ’s ties to Jichiro, the All-Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union, which the LDP holds responsible for the pensions scandal thanks to the union’s illegal practice of having workers paid for full-time work despite not being present full time. He claimed, “In order to destroy the Abe cabinet, which fought boldly against the practice of illegal pay received for illegal full-time work, wasn’t the suicide bombing of leaking the case of the 50 million missing pensions records launched?”
On 22 July he discussed an Asahi editorial and declared that the LDP stands for “eradicating amakudari,” while the DPJ, as a result of its ties to public-sector unions, is not really opposed to ending amakudari even though ending the practice is at the center of the party’s approach to administrative reform. (Recall that the DPJ wanted tougher provisions against amakudari in the administrative reform bill it compromised with the Fukuda government to pass in the spring Diet session.) He asserted that because of Ozawa Ichiro’s ties with Rengo, a DPJ administration would be “heaven for the illegal practice of receiving full-time pay without performing full-time work.”
He repeated his criticism of the DPJ’s silence on this practice on 24 July, and extended the criticism in a post today, in which he questioned the wisdom of giving the DPJ — which he says moves left or right depending on the political winds — carte blanche.
I would have more respect for Mr. Nakagawa’s argument if his criticisms of the DPJ didn’t also apply to the LDP — the contemporary LDP.
Mr. Nakagawa writes about the LDP as if we were living in a parallel universe in which the Koizumi revolution succeeded: Mr. Koizumi was able to break the back of the reactionaries, used his final year in office to push a series of wide-reaching reforms, and handed power over to Mr. Abe, who decided that he would continue the reforms and oppose the readmission of ousted reactionaries to the party instead of devoting his energy to the ideological obsessions of the right. He acts as if Mr. Fukuda is controlling the party with a firm hand, that he has faced no opposition from the road tribe to his plan to phase out the road construction fund, that he won’t face more opposition this autumn as he attempts to write his road plan into law. In short, Mr. Nakagawa acts if the war for the identity of the LDP was already won by his reformists.
The reality is shockingly different. Mr. Nakagawa’s emergence as the leading voice for reform may have given the beleagurered Koizumians some heft, but many of the first- and second-term Koizumi kids may be out of the Diet after the next election.
Yamauchi Koichi, one of those kids, illustrates just how silly this theme coming from the mouths of LDP members in a post at his blog called “The LDP-ization of Ozawa’s DPJ.” Mr. Yamauchi suggests that the push for reelecting Mr. Ozawa as DPJ leader without a vote is a sign of the traditional LDP tactics learned by Mr. Ozawa from his days as LDP secretary-general. At no point does Mr. Yamauchi say “old LDP;” he says LDP, as in the party of which he is currently a member. Mr. Yamauchi is not so foolish to deny that the LDP is not the bizarro world LDP in which Mr. Koizumi succeeded at transforming the LDP; Yomiuri reported this week that Mr. Yamauchi is finding that he will have to run against the LDP in Kanagawa’s ninth district in order to win reelection.
Does the LDP really want to take this approach in attacking the DPJ? Does it really want to describe the DPJ as being like the LDP, an LDP that contrary to Mr. Nakagawa’s wishes is still alive and kicking? Mind you, I’m uncomfortable with Mr. Ozawa’s ties with labor unions, which are no less reactionary than businesses and farmers long coddled by the LDP, but given that the DPJ has no track record in power, I’m willing to give the DPJ the benefit of the doubt — and I suspect that many Japanese voters might be willing to do so too when given the chance. The LDP is betting that voters will prefer the devil they know (all too well) to the devil they don’t; I’d be willing to bet others, and it may turn out that the DPJ isn’t the devil that the LDP wants voters to think it is.