Asashoryu may have delivered a huge gift to the DPJ. While an Ozawa indictment would have sealed the deal, as expected by MTC, only Okubo, Ikeda and Ishikawa will be indicted. A quick unscientific spot check of the Japanese online coverage this morning (NZ time – news cycle has had 12 hours to run) reveals that with the exception of the Sankei, the others have the Asashoryu story top billing. Sankei has an Ozawa related story, but this is no surprise.
As Ozawa is not being indicted it would be up to the LDP and the media to make hay while the sun shines on this story. It will no longer be as easy to extend this one out past its natural life. Asashoryu whatever one thinks of him is a true icon and such a downfall is the sort of thing the media in Japan craves, as we saw in the ridiculously overexposed Noripi coverage last year. It will be interesting to look back in a year’s time, and depending on the conditions and intriguing developments to come in Japanese politics, to speculate over the impact the Asashoryu story had on the DPJ’s ability to release itself from the historical legacy (assuming there is not more dirt to be uncovered!) and actually get on to some serious policy change/reform. Maybe none.