I have now settled down in my ivory tower (odd slanty wooden building) to commence research. I no longer have to indulge my politics fetish covertly from within the confines of the governmental institution and I have to say, I do like it!
I must say however, International Relations has changed a lot since 2004 when I finished my MA. Between Google going to battle with China, and France, Germany and Australia taking a rather public piss all over IE and Microsoft, things certainly do seem to have changed!
I have not much to add on the Japan front – There is some talk of Hatoyama stepping down before the House of Councillors election this year but I personally do not think, barring any further indiscretions, that this is a viable choice. While one motivation for the public to vote in the DPJ might have been to clean up politics, I think the electorate is a bit more realistic than that – especially when you have a party that draws personnel from the ancien regime. That is not to say that the latest revelations are acceptable but my impression would be that the real change the public wanted was for actual policy changes to be made and this requires stability. I think if Hatoyama was to push on beyond this current crisis, perhaps extracted a few concessions from the US on Futenma (ie anything that does not look like what the status quo would have been and thus look like Japan actually engaged competently in a game of Real Politik with the US), and actually implemented a few manifesto promises, then the public would be rather more forgiving. More importantly for the DPJ I feel that they have little choice – nothing short of further criminal activities or the DPJ losing seats at the House of Councillors election would, given the recent political history of the role of the PM, justify a change in replacement.
Of course how the Ozawa problem is dealt with is a wild card here – it appears as if the DPJ senses that something is up*and is not looking to quitely extricate Ozawa from the party – one hopes for their sake that the prosecutor’s office has overstepped the mark or else this could look rather messy.
If some of these challenges pan out positively and there is at least one substantial policy win before the HoC election later this year, Hatoyama might well be looking very different (Queue in one hour a shock announcement of his stepping down from the PM post).
Update – The latest NHK survey of the Cabinet seems to suggest that the public’s expectation is per the above post – especially amongst those unaffiliated voters:
Asked about why they did not support the Hatoyama Cabinet, 46% of that segment of the public cited the lack of capability of implementing policy, and another 26% said they did not have any expectations about its policies. On the question of what they hoped to see tackled by the cabinet, 23% of the public listed social security, such as pensions and health care, 23% wanted elimination of waste of tax money, and 21% said jobs and the economy.