A DPJ government takes shape?

Apropos my comments on the probability of Fujii Hirohisa’s being named finance minister in a Hatoyama government, Sankei has a long article speculating that to the three important posts of finance minister, foreign minister, and chief cabinet secretary, Hatoyama Yukio will appoint Fujii, Okada Katsuya, and Kan Naoto respectively. Okada, mentioned as a possible finance minister, would reportedly be unacceptable to the party due to his unwillingness to rule out the possibility of a consumption tax increase. I like the idea of Kan as chief cabinet secretary, as he has gradually become the party’s chief spokesman on administrative reform, the task that will be central to the job of the chief cabinet secretary in a DPJ government. The report also mentions the possibility of Nagatsuma Akira’s entering the cabinet.

Not surprisingly, it also suggests that Ozawa Ichiro will be named DPJ secretary-general. I am still a bit skeptical about the advisability of not including Ozawa in the cabinet, although I am increasingly less worried about the danger of Ozawa’s using DPJ members loyal to him to pressure the cabinet. I do not doubt that there are DPJ candidates who are particularly indebted to Ozawa for helping them get their starts in politics, but it is questionable whether Ozawa will force them to choose between loyalty to Ozawa and loyalty to the party. It is not impossible that Ozawa could be a force for stability in the party, serving in effect as chief whip while helping the party position itself for forthcoming elections. Ozawa obviously has a questionable past when it comes to being loyal to parties, even to parties he created — Ito Atsuo, in his account of Ozawa in the current Bungei Shunju, digs up a quote from Ozawa about parties as being nothing more than tools — but on the other hand, Ozawa has also not been in a position to lead a party that had just unseated the LDP and received close to a two-thirds majority of seats in the Diet (as seems possible).

In the case of Ozawa, will history simply repeat itself? There is reason to think not.

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