A little cryptic title for my long-overdue first post in 2013, but I’ll quickly explain. Having a wisdom tooth removed is not an experience I would wish on many people, yet is something I had to go through this past week. A couple of weeks ago I got a pain at the back of my [...]
The Japanese PM Roundabout
Well 12 months has almost passed so it’s just about time for Japan to elect it’s next annual Prime Minister. If you keep up to date with this site (not difficult given the pitiful number of updates I’ve been producing recently) or with things happening in Japan, you have to laugh at the state of politics here. Well, it’s either laugh or cry with despair. Since the “suntanned lizard” Junichiro Koizumi (also about the only PM in recent history with any sort of personality, see right) left office in 2006, no Premier has lasted longer than 14 months in the job.
The Democratic Party of Japan took over office from the Liberal Democratic Party (different name, same old types and ideas) in 2009 and they didn’t want to break the trend, currently on their third Prime Minster. Elections are meant to be held every 4 years, but that has been unthinkable in the last decade. And it looks like we could be due for one in the next few months.
The ruling party, “led” by Yoshihiko Noda (see left) has been wanting to raise the level of consumption tax from it’s current 5% level up to 10%. They are claiming it is needed for the rebuilding of northern Japan after the 2011 earthquake & tsunami, coupled with the “man-made disaster” at Fukushima. Of course they couldn’t hold TEPCO responsible as they are a big company and line the pockets of many, so they had to get money somehow to rebuild the pachinko parlours (Japan’s most popular way of getting around its laws against gambling) that were lost. Although it is also very possible that they decided Noda’s popularity wasn’t dropping as quickly as it should do, and so had to take drastic action. Well, maybe not “very possible” but definitely within the realms of possibility. A consumption tax would also be more preferable to an income-based tax rise, as the latter would most likely affect the higher earners more. Couldn’t have that, so the consumption tax will affect all equally.
When the DPJ propsed this raising of consumption tax, the LDP fought against it. Mainly because it was an idea from the opposition. I did hear some arguments mentioned by LDP members, but to anyone that dabbles in logic they weren’t really substantiated. This lack of support from the opposition upset Noda and so he tried pushing harder against the LDP to get them to agree to this rise. They didn’t budge and the stalemate continued. Eventually the PM came up with an ingenious ultimatum. “If you opposition don’t support me, I’ll be forced to dissolve parliament and have a general election!”. The noise that followed was that of 307 palms slapping against their foreheads in disbelief at what had just been said. “OK. Do it” was the general opposition response. Unbelievably, Noda hadn’t been expecting this!
Since then there have been fractures in the ruling party, with a former leader leaving the DPJ along with 49 other members, and Noda’s popularity is dropping faster than Andy Murray’s chance of ever winning a Grand Slam event. Am fully expecting an election come September, and the the prospect of yet another prime minister until late 2013. And then it will all start again…