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Seiji Maehara: from resigning 6 months earlier to possible next leader of Japan

Seiji Maehara: from resigning 6 months earlier to possible next leader of Japan

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

If you are outside of Japan then the political landscape is so strange because leaders of this nation don’t have appetites to stay around for the duration.  Therefore, a new leader will shortly emerge in Japan but if the pattern of old continues then within a few months his or her ratings will fall by the wayside.

It is reported that Seiji Maehara is a front-runner and that he stands a good chance of becoming the next leader of Japan.  This may or may not happen because politics in Japan is very fragile and the past may come back to haunt him. After all, he only resigned six months ago and in most highly advanced political systems he would stand no chance because of the closeness to his last resignation.

Also, since the tragic events of March 11 the profile of Seiji Maehara left the media circus and he remained distant from policy makers. Therefore, his resignation six months ago and being distant from recent policy decisions should be a negative when it comes to being selected by members within the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

However, in Japan nothing is clear cut apart from the joy of forcing leading political figures to resign. If we take this logic at first hand it would seem bizarre that Seiji Maehara would even run and surely the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will pounce on his last resignation.

Seiji Maehara while remaining outside of administration circles in the last six months can hardly play the card that he was distant from the current Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, because he was the Foreign Minister under him.  However, some people are stating that he seems outside the current administration which is hated but this is misleading because he had a very high ranking position under Naoto Kan.

It is still unclear who will be selected internally within the DPJ but the LDP will believe that Seiji Maehara is fair game if he is selected and clearly one single mistake will make him yet another lame duck leader.  If his resignation had happened a few years before and he had re-entered the highest ranks of power then his candidacy would make sense.

However, if he is selected after being forced to resign six months earlier then surely the LDP will be thinking that their time is near again.  The strangeness of politics in Japan is unique within the leading industrial nations but because of this he may be selected. 

This, however, points to rashness within the political system and surely the entire system needs changing in order for Japan to become a mature political nation based on solid periods of power once being elected.

Seiji Maehara may or he may not be the best person to take over the leadership of Japan but this should not be the issue.  The issue should be based on his resignation only six months earlier and how this puts the leading office in Japan into a bad light. please visit





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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Japan


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Japan: a major economic power but a political system which is immature

Japan: a major economic power but a political system which is immature

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The Prime Minister of Japan faces a no-confidence motion and once more the politicians of this nation are shaming this country.  It doesn’t help when the electorate appears to jump on the bandwagon according to opinion polls which usually show the leader of this nation in a bad light, irrespective of the politician in power.

In every other major nation you have political leaders who serve their time and then they are either re-elected or they lose the election to the newly elected leader.  From time to time when a political leader is in office for more than ten years then internal pressure may occur in nations like the United Kingdom. Therefore, both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair were forced to stand down because of internal party issues but this was only after they had been in office for a very long time.

In the United States you can only be elected twice but just like every other major power it is clear that politicians serve out their time irrespective of major developments which may be negative with regards to economic issues and so forth.

However, Japan is very different because it is a nation where political leaders resign on a whim and where factionalism within the two main political parties is deemed to be more important.

It also appears not to matter that Japan is located in a very powerful geopolitical region and this applies to economics, the nuclear factor, territorial issues and tensions within the region.

Added to this is the economic factor because the last twenty years on a whole have been rather negative.  Therefore, you would think that political stability and implementing long lasting policies would be in vogue but it could not be further from the truth.

Therefore, like usual, we have another political leader whereby not only the opposition want him to resign but also politicians within his own political party.

In Japan the political merry-go-round just goes on and on and clearly this nation is bereft of any firm direction because the political leadership changes like the wind, so to speak.

Regional nations like China must be “laughing underneath” because irrespective of the positives and negatives of the one party state in China.  It is abundantly clear that this nation does have long term goals despite many internal problems like social inequality, ethnic tensions and limited political and religious freedom.

In Japan it is abundantly clear that this nation is democratic and you have political and religious freedom.  It is also clear that you have some of the most highly developed companies in the world and several banks are amongst the elites in terms of capital.

However, in the political field then something is clearly amiss and why Japan bothers to send the prime minister to major international gatherings is beyond me.  After all, it is more than likely that the next major meeting will witness a new political leader.

The motion attacking Naoto Kan which he rejects is based on his handling of the earthquake which unleashed the potent tsunami and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima at the Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Strangely, with a hint of sarcasm, the ongoing nuclear crisis belongs to past policy mistakes and the comfortable relationship between TEPCO and past political leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Also, the earthquake and the destructive tsunami and nuclear crisis can’t be pinned on the prime minister of Japan.  This crisis is unprecedented in history because of the triple reality of what happened and any political leader would be faced with multiple serious problems.

Despite this, political leaders can’t unite for even a short period of time and within less than three months the leader of Japan is faced with a no-confidence motion.

Once more the political reality of Japan is an international embarrassment.

Did Naoto Kan make mistakes?  Yes!  

However, given the reality of March 11 then all political leaders in the world would have made mistakes because the speed of events was very rapid and the magnitude and complexity is vast.

Irrespective of the performance of Naoto Kan the real issue is Japanese politics because Japan is “a self-induced laughing stock” in the political arena.  Elected leaders should stay in power for a set period which happens in every other major democracy.

If not, then what is the point of expecting and desiring change when prime ministers come and go all the time? (please visit)

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Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Japan


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Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Ichiro Ozawa and the political merry-go-round

Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Ichiro Ozawa and the political merry-go-round

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Political merry go round in Japan
Political merry go round in Japan

 Japanese politics is a wonderland of revolving prime ministers and a deep rooted desire to oust political leaders because of petty infighting and factional fighting.  Indeed, the country of Japan appears to be not only politically naïve but further more they don’t seem to care about international opinion or the standing of Japan in the international arena.

Therefore, not surprisingly, the knives are out for PM Naoto Kan, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ); and being Japan then the knives are out for him from within the DPJ and the main opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

After the last national election in Japan, Professor Jeffery Kingston, Tokyo Temple University, commented that “A lot of people think that (the election) was a diversion from the real problems” and “All of this sort of political maneuvering looks to the Japanese people, and probably to the rest of the world, like reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Knowing the reality of Japanese politics then true to form the usual resignation calls are being demanded and PM Kan is being lambasted by powerful people within the DPJ and from the main opposition party, the LDP.

It must be mentioned that the political merry-go-round even applies to major political leaders turning against their former political affiliation.  Therefore, the DPJ bigwig, Ichiro Ozawa, once was a fully fledged member of the LDP but then he left and belonged to several different political parties but lastly he moved to the DPJ.

The international community is clearly behind Japan because of the terrible loss of life after the earthquake unleashed a brutal and potent tsunami which swept away everything in its path. 

Also, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis means that you have genuine sympathy throughout the international community. 

Alas, media scenes of strong community bonds and a sense of the “Dunkirk spirit” do not belong to the political scene.  Instead, it is resignation time and sadly many Japanese people appear to be jumping on the bandwagon because the Asahi Shimbum reported that 67 per cent of respondents are displeased with PM Kan and similar findings have been expressed in the Mainichi Shimbun.

Yet, if people and politicians turned the clock back then it is apparent that a lot of hypocrisy is being handed out and the electorate must have missed twenty years of minor economic growth to periods of stagnation.

Sadakuza Tanigaki, president of the LDP, did manage to refrain from asking PM Kan to resign for several weeks and Ichiro Ozawa also remained quiet.  However, true to form Tanigaki is now putting pressure on PM Kan to resign and the usual “political cockroach,” Ichiro Ozawa, is also lambasting the prime minister despite belonging to the same political party.

Tokyo must be a chamber of political deceit where factions squabble over petty issues and plot the downfall of another prime minister.

Of course, Sadakuza Tanigaki and Ichiro Ozawa will keep quiet about the strong links between the LDP and TEPCO. Ichiro Ozawa can point to the fact that his links are more distant and he no longer belongs to the LDP but clearly he was part and parcel of a political party which had deep links to TEPCO.

However, for Sadakazu Tanigaki the situation of close ties with TEPCO is more problematic and this applies to political donations in recent years.  Therefore, while the president of the LDP is lambasting PM Kan and blaming him for the current ills, he clearly is neglecting to focus on the “convenient” relationship between the LDP and TEPCO.

Sadakuza Tanigaki stated that “The time has come for (Kan) to decide whether he stays or not…It would be extremely sorrowful if Kan stayed.”

Ichiro Ozawa, of course, also rebuked PM Kan because he stated that “No signs of Prime Minister Kan’s leadership are seen in the measures that the irresponsible administration is taking, and the damage from the disaster may spread further.”

For international readers who may not understand Ichiro Ozawa, then yes, he does belong to the same ruling DPJ and he is putting enormous pressure on the leader of the DPJ. Not only this, Ichiro Ozawa is clearly ridiculing the administration and this implies that he does not trust many members of the DPJ.

This begs the question why he doesn’t resign from the DPJ or why he isn’t forced out of the DPJ.  Surely, it is clear to PM Kan that this powerful bigwig within his own political party desires power and to create instability within the DPJ.

It could well be that PM Kan is thinking about the long-term future of the DPJ because he knows full well that Ichiro Ozawa cares little about this political organization.  Therefore, PM Kan must be thinking about preventing a political split because the past record of Ichiro Ozawa is one of backstabbing and destroying political movements.

Sadakuza Tanigaki should also focus on the 20 million yen in donations given to the LDP from TEPCO between 2007 and 2010.  Not only this, but clearly the link between TEPCO and the LDP runs deep and the amakudari system was milked for decades.

These donations will be the tip of the iceberg because many individual donations will have been given and the amount will add up.  Never mind, this will still not stop Sadakuza Tanigaki complaining.

Oh well, it was too much to ask for a two or three month period of no backstabbing.  Yes, welcome to the political merry-go-round where the knives in important chambers in Tokyo are being sharpened. 

Not even an earthquake, tsunami, nuclear crisis, and the loss of life of around 28,000 people, could keep political unity or a sense of dignity.

Resignation, resignation, resignation! (please visit)

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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Japan


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