Michael Cucek has already pondered Yosano Kaoru’s thinking behind his strange alliance with arch-revisionist Hiranuma Takeo — which has resulted in party that will supposedly be called Stand Up Japan! (the SUJ? As if Your Party wasn’t bad enough) — but there’s another factor beyond the electoral factors considered by Cucek.
The alliance is a marriage of convenience in policy terms for both Yosano and Hiranuma.
As I’ve argued in the past, if the revisionist conservatives have a blind spot, it is a patent inability to speak intelligently about economic problems (which was one reason why the appointment of the late Nakagawa Shoichi as finance minister so puzzling). They love symbolic politics — they love making the case for why, in the grand sweep of history, their program of revising the constitution, reinvigorating Japanese arms, and defending traditional culture is imperative. When it comes to speaking convincingly about the economic insecurities faced by Japanese families, however, they fumble, as the government of Abe Shinzo (and Abe’s decision to campaign in the 2007 upper house election on constitution revision) so clearly illustrates. Not only can they not emote on economic issues, they just have nothing new or interesting to say when it comes to solutions to the problems plaguing the Japanese economy.
If there’s one thing Yosano can do, it’s economic policy, having long fought a lonely battle within the LDP for fiscal reconstruction. Whatever other considerations are going through his mind, we should not forget his emphasis on forthrightly explaining policy proposals to the nation. Indeed, he wrote a whole book on this idea, a book in which he comes across as wholly sincere.
As such, Stand Up Japan! is an alliance of convenience for both its progenitors. I expect Yosano will have a free hand to push his economic agenda of choice without having to compromise as he did within the LDP, while Hiranuma will have a vehicle for inserting the revisionist agenda into election campaign without having to worry about having something to say about the economy.
Whether this chimera of a party will survive is another matter entirely, but it does pose a major risk to the LDP. Now that there are neo-liberal and revisionist LDP splinter parties it’s possible that the collapse of the LDP could pick up speed. Partisans from both camps within the LDP now have parties to which they can comfortably escape, which would leave a rump party in the hands of the old guard, which has stood for nothing but holding power. And out of power, what purpose will the LDP serve other than serving as work relief for aging politicians? The party might linger on as a loose coalition of hereditary politicians who can keep winning on the strength of personal support, but even then, how much longer will the aging members of the koenkai of LDP politicians have the power to return their man?
As unlikely as it seems, Stand Up Japan! could be a serious, even mortal blow to the LDP.