A Crucial Two Days for the DPJ

Apparently Noda had a discussion with Koshiishi Azuma last evening where he informed (日) the DPJ secretary-general of his plan for holding a TPP-focused election after the three bills (budget financing, electoral reform, social security commission) have been passed. Koshiishi, as the party-government go-between pushed back on both the idea of having an election soon and Japan entering the TPP given it would have implications for party unity. As mentioned in the previous post, this might not actually concern Noda.

Nevertheless, as MTC suggests, it may still be too early to get excited. My instinct is that this is real, if for no other reason certain statements by Noda and others sound close to electioneering, (日) but Wednesday should be informative in this respect. Perhaps more important than what Noda says during the November 14th party leaders’ debate is what kind of bill the DPJ submits to rectify the vote disparity. If, as is demanded by the LDP and Komeito, the issue of rectifying the vote disparity is separated from the issue of reducing the number of House of Represenatives PR seats, then this would indicate that Noda is likely to follow through on the strategy. If the DPJ submits a bill that both rectifies the vote disparity and reduces the number of PR seats in the HoR then this is a sign that Noda is still concerned with managing party unity (or has no other choice) and the political situation will remain stagnant. The other parties will likely not play ball and Diet discussions will likely drag on as disagreements over the bill continue. This is certainly what some in the DPJ, and others in the smaller parties, wish to see anyhow.

If it is the former then we can expect the LDP and Komeito to pass the bill rather quickly through both houses. Abe, who seemingly can’t wait to get back into the PM chair, has suggested that even a 24th December election is permissible. Seemingly this would be before any quick and dirty redistricting took place. A late November passing of an electoral reform bill where only five seats have to be adjusted could perhaps allow for a rather truncated and less precise redistricting process to be undertaken in time for a January election.

The timing regarding Noda calling an election/declaring entry into the TPP and when an election is held may well be a critical piece of the political puzzle. If Noda declares entry into the TPP during the Diet session (due to end November 30, but could be extended) then this raises the possibility of a HoR no-confidence vote by anti-TPP figures in his own party as well as those in other parties. If  either of these two calls take place after the Diet session ends then another intriguing issue then becomes whether Noda can actually make it to the election. Will there be enough time for disgruntled DPJers to campaign to remove him? Are there enough such members still left in the party? Will they leave without even trying? Is Noda actually committed to leading the DPJ into the next election and willing to stand aside for perhaps Hosono who has been getting much more media attention (日)* lately (both good and bad)?

Speculation on this may be able to start to take place on Wednesday, if we are mercifully lucky.

* Hosono in today’s HoR Budget Committee took aim at the issue of hereditary Diet members and the potential for nationalistic posturing by the LDP and Ishihara to cause trouble in and for Japan. Hosono also described Noda’s concept of a “healthy” nationalism being necessarily as potentially over optimistic. This may well have been a swipe at Noda as described by Jiji, but it may also be a sign that Hosono is on board with the idea of centering the DPJ as a non-conservative alternative to the ‘right-ward shift’ that Japan is apparently undergoing.

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