The general consensus amongst analysts and bloggers seems to be that Kan will hold on, although Jun Okumura does allude to a possible “sokagakkai effect” that might make it closer than many imagine. One certainly gets the feeling from various analyst and Japanese media sources that some of the young and first year DPJ members are starting to question Kan’s sense of direction, and perhaps more so, sense of conviction on a lot of the issues that they were brought to power on.
So, should there be an Ozawa win (as unlikely as it still seems), will it be the final decisive blow to “regime change” as some are arguing?
First of all, PanOrient News offers an interesting perspective on a recent attempt at a “hatchet job” by the Washington Post in regards to Ozawa’s candidacy. Certainly worth reading.
The East Asia Forum website contains two strong, conflicting perspectives on Ozawa. One suggests that:
His decision to challenge Prime Minister Kan Naoto for the presidency of the DPJ reflects the grimness that has crept into Japanese politics, disfiguring those who seek real reform, and an almost metaphysical need by Ozawa to defend his legacy and previous ambitions.
His challenge can be seen as a metaphor for what has gone wrong with the DPJ since its moment of triumph, and Ozawa’s last fateful chance to redeem himself and his party.
Ozawa’s challenge to Kan represents the apogee of the ‘Ozawan Moment’ in Japanese politics. It is a moment characterized by deep immoderation for power and by the overwhelming hubris of Ozawa himself. The decline of the DPJ, and even of Japanese politics, results at this moment from the failure to reconcile the fundamental tensions of political purpose with Ozawa’s great ambition to rule. His concern with the legacy of the DPJ emerges finally as nothing more than an expedient to secure the presidency of the party. His famed political maneuvers and brilliance, and his insistence that such brilliance entitles him to power, appear now with all the subtlety of brutal force.
While another, quite astutely IMHO, makes another quite different point:
Certainly, there are modernising reformers strewn across the political aisle. Yet neither party’s modernisers have the votes within their own party to guide reform policy through the Diet, and cross-aisle cooperation among modernisers is an idea whose time has not yet arrived. And so for political programs to see light of day, they must necessarily be grafted onto the preferences of traditionalist politicians.
Ozawa gets this. He understands that, unless you are a mercurial character like former Prime Minister Koizumi, able to appeal over the heads of your own political establishment to drive reformist legislation, you have to roll up your sleeves and get down to the dirty job of legislative sausage-making. Ozawa understands, too, that traditionalist constituencies are less fickle in their voting patterns than the median urban voter, a lesson the DPJ greenhorns should have learnt (but did not) when Koizumi maintained power on the back of these constituents in the 2005 general election.
Make up your own mind I guess.