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Ichiro Ozawa shows his disloyalty to PM Kan: time to be forced out of the DPJ?

Ichiro Ozawa shows his disloyalty to PM Kan: time to be forced out of the DPJ?  

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times  

Ichiro Ozawa 
Ichiro Ozawa

Ichiro Ozawa once more shows the nature of politics in Japan because factionalism and boosting personal power bases is a reality for many political bigwigs. Therefore, despite the seriousness of the ongoing crisis caused by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Fukushima; it is opportunistic times for Ichiro Ozawa to lambast the leader of the ruling party.

If you are an outsider to party politics in Japan then you may presume that this is an opposition attack.  In a way, it is an opposition attack but true to the nature of factionalism in Japan it is a political attack from within because Ichiro Ozawa belongs to the same Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

Instead of heeding the calls by PM Naoto Kan who states that now is a time of national unity it appears that for Ichiro Ozawa that he cares little; instead he is dreaming of being the future leader of Japan.

Therefore, Ichiro Ozawa cares little about national unity or being loyal to the party he belongs.  It is, for him, a time to “jump on the bandwagon” and blame PM Kan for ills which do not belong to the current prime minister of Japan.

After all, it is factual that the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) had a close relationship with the government of Japan under various Liberal Democratic Party governments.  With this knowledge, and the reality that Ichiro Ozawa was once the former Chief Secretary of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), then maybe he is suffering from memory loss?

In truth, Ichiro Ozawa is an enigmatic political leader in Japan and this applies to his energy, creativity, strong mindedness, and other positive factors.  However, he is also a self destructive destroyer and clearly he is not being loyal during a time of great trauma for Japan.

Ichiro Ozawa is known as the “shadow shogun” because of his influence which is very strong within the DPJ.  However, in recent times the funding scandal hindered his influence and image but true to the nature of Ichiro Ozawa he refuses to be “put out to grass.”

Therefore, the current crisis in Japan may be seen to be a time of opportunism for the “shadow shogun” because it appears that principles and politics do not go hand in hand with many powerful politicians.  Also, the faction based politics in Japan which is destroying the political body politic is once more rearing itself. This applies to recent comments made by Ichiro Ozawa towards his own political leader and this is further evidence of Ichiro Ozawa sinking into the pits of contempt and political shenanigans.

Ichiro Ozawa lambasted Prime Minister Naoto Kan not from sincerity but because of the desire of political office and if he destroys what he helped to create; then this will not concern him.  Therefore, the “shadow shogun” attacked his own leader and implied that the leadership of Naoto Kan is inept.

True to the nature of Ichiro Ozawa, who is tainted by the funding saga, he can say this with a straight face despite him belonging to the LDP in the past.  However, surely he had ample time to demand safety procedures or raise serious issues related to TEPCO when he belonged to the LDP.  After all, he was no junior member because at one time he was the Chief Secretary of the LDP.

Ichiro Ozawa stated that “The irresponsible way the cabinet is dealing (with the disasters), with Prime Minister Naoto Kan himself not exercising leadership, could lead to further disasters.”

He also stated that “I strongly accept the crushing defeat as the public serving notice to the Kan administration” and this applies to recent local elections which were held in Japan.

Ichiro Ozawa also stated that the “Disaster-hit victims are greatly anxious about whether (the government) can restore their lives and the state of their hometowns.”

The DPJ broke the stranglehold of LDP rule which had virtually led Japan since the ending of World War Two.  Therefore, the victory of the DPJ in 2009 was meant to usher in a new political dawn but Ichiro Ozawa belongs to the political ways of the LDP and members who jumped ship from the LDP to the DPJ share the old ways. 

Also, the DPJ is unable to break the faction based politics in Japan and until this problem is tackled then respect for politicians will remain minimal and the latest comments by Ichiro Ozawa is further evidence of the reality of politics in Japan.

Ichiro Ozawa was first elected to the Diet of Japan in 1969 and he remained within the LDP until the early 1990s.  Then he left the LDP because of opportunism because Ichiro Ozawa was close to Shin Kanemaru who wielded strong power. However, once Shin Kanemaru was embroiled in a corruption scandal in 1992 then Ichiro Ozawa decided to “jump ship” in 1993 along with Tsutomu Hata.

This created instability within the LDP and it ended their 38 year dominance of political government.  The splinter party under Tsutomu Hata and Ichiro Ozawa was called the Japan Renewal Party.

However, the Japan Socialist Party was upset by Ichiro Ozawa’s foreign policy comments and they joined a coalition with the LDP.  After this debacle the great creator and destroyer then entered the fray within the New Frontier Party which had been created in 1994 by Toshiki Kaifu.

The confusing nature of Japanese politics meant that after the New Frontier Party began to destroy itself from within; then Ichiro Ozawa once more helped to create the Liberal Party.  He even floated the notion of rejoining the LDP after forming a coalition with the LDP and Keizo Obuchi was thinking deeply about this.

Yet for Hiromu Nonaka, Junichiro Koizumi, Taku Yamasaki, Koichi Kato, and other important political figures; they would not entertain the return of Ichiro Ozawa irrespective if this happened because of a merger of the LDP and Liberal Party or if he just joined openly without a merger.

Once the door had been shut on Ichiro Ozawa within the LDP he then moved his party and joined the DPJ in 2003. He soon rose quickly because he was elected to be the head of this political organization and he soon brushed off the pension scandal which emerged in 2004 after being cleared. 

However, other scandals emerged in 2009 and it is difficult from Ichiro Ozawa to distance himself from this.  Despite this, he still dreams of being the leader of Japan and his disloyalty is clear for all to see because his political career is about self interests and self promotion.

It is time for the DPJ to become a proper political party which is based on being loyal to DPJ principles.  Ichiro Ozawa who attacked PM Naoto Kan about his response to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis, which currently engulfs Japan; should not belong to the future of the DPJ and factionalism needs to end.

PM Naoto Kan and members who are true to the DPJ should either force Ichiro Ozawa out or limit his enormous power base within the DPJ.  If not, then either he will seek to obtain power by undermining the current leader of the DPJ or he will drag the DPJ down.

After all, the “shadow shogun” is known for being a creator and destroyer; however, the usual end game is self destruction and if he drags the DPJ down then he will care little. (please visit)

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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in Japan


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Democratic Party of Japan is standing up well to the tragic earthquake and tsunami

Democratic Party of Japan is standing up well to the tragic earthquake and tsunami

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times  

PM Naoto Kan 
PM Naoto Kan

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is standing up well to the tragic earthquake and tsunami and the Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, is gaining in stature.  Despite this, the media in Japan is often too critical and people should remember the shortcomings of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) during the Kobe earthquake which struck in 1995.

Factionalism is a huge problem in Japan and this applies to the main political parties and back stabbing, power constraints, no focused hierarchy which is united, and other factors, is hindering the political system in Japan.

Therefore, prime ministers resign quickly and factions once more start to focus on their respective power concentrations.  This leads to a cycle of “nothingness” and shortsightedness and it is refreshing to hear Naoto Kan stating that he will serve out his term and not resign.

Irrespective if people support the current DPJ led government or if they are loyal to the LDP or other minor political parties; it is instrumental for the political system to have stability and people in Japan and the media need to take the rough with the smooth.

Karel van Wolferen, the author of The Enigma of Japanese Power, states Amid the horrifying news from Japan, the establishment of new standards of political leadership there is easy to miss – in part because the Japanese media follow old habits of automatically criticizing how officials are dealing with the calamity, and many foreign reporters who lack perspective simply copy that critical tone. But, compared to the aftermath of the catastrophic Kobe earthquake of 1995, when the authorities appeared to wash their hands of the victims’ miseries, the difference could hardly be greater.”

This is a fair point and the current crisis in Japan is much more devastating than Kobe in terms of the numbers of people killed, the fact that the 2011 earthquake also led to a destructive and deadly tsunami and added to this you have the nuclear factor and the fear of radiation.

This is not to understate the Kobe earthquake because this earthquake also killed many people and over 6,000 people died and this earthquake was truly devastating.

However, the earthquake which struck on March 11, 2011, is the first earthquake in the world to compose of an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis.  Therefore, the DPJ, which is beset with factionalism, just like the LDP, is doing a good job given the circumstances.

Karel van Wolferen, referring to the Kobe earthquake, states that “This time, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan) government is making an all-out effort, with unprecedented intensive involvement of his Cabinet and newly formed specialized task forces. The prime minister himself is regularly televised with relevant officials wearing the work fatigues common among Japanese engineers.”

The Kobe earthquake in 1995 epitomized the aloofness of the LDP and appeared to be based on consensus thinking and bureaucratic mindsets which were ill prepared to act promptly.  Also, the earthquake appeared to be based on stratification because according to Karel van Wolferen many people were left to look after themselves because the main priority was to focus on people who “belonged to corporations or religious groups.”

The DPJ ended the monopoly of rule under the LDP and for bureaucratic mandarins the consensus faced a new approach because the philosophy of the DPJ is that elected officials should rule and be made accountable for their actions. 

Since the DPJ took power it is clear that career officials, the judiciary, and all the mechanisms under the tight bureaucratic ship have faced power concentration issues and it is not easy for the DPJ to alter the status quo and mechanisms of power in Japan.

The American government under President Obama undermined the first DPJ leader, Yukio Hatoyama, because the Obama administration appears to look down on Japan and instead of a genuine discussion about Okinawa; it was a case of dictate and enforcing an American objective and ultimately this led to the resignation of Yukio Hatoyama.

This was an auspicious start for the new DPJ government and added to this initial setback the Ichiro Ozawa “shadow” continues to linger and he is not helping the cause of the Naoto Kan government.

Karel van Wolferen also lambasts the media in Japan because he states that Japan’s main newspapers have mostly backed the status quo as well. Indeed, they now appear to have forgotten their role in hampering the DPJ’s effort to create an effective political coordinating body for the country. A half-century of reporting on internal LDP rivalries unrelated to actual policy has turned Japan’s reporters into the world’s greatest connoisseurs of political factionalism. It has also left them almost incapable of recognizing actual policy initiatives when they see them.”

However, despite everything the DPJ is focused under Naoto Kan and the government is being very transparent and daily briefings can be seen on television.  It is obvious that some mistakes will be made during the current crisis because all governments would struggle under such an enormous crisis. 

Despite this, the Kan government is thinking on its feet and the government is part of the people and if we think about the Kobe earthquake; then clearly the LDP government at the time was aloof and rigid.

The future of the current Kan administration is still uncertain because of factional politics in Japan, the Ozawa “shadow,” major economic issues which have been created by the LDP, and power concentration mechanisms are still potent within the body politic of Japan.

Yet the current leader of Japan is holding up well and decisions are being made promptly and transparency is part and parcel of the Kan administration.  please visit


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