Thursday, February 25, 2010

The DPJ Roils in Dissatisfaction

Party needs a democratic revolution from within

I went to find out for myself what's going on within the Democratic Party of Japan. Simply put, the party is convulsed with dissatisfaction. It's no exaggeration to say it's like the moment before a bomb explodes.

The basis for this dissatisfaction is that there's no freedom to discuss or debate ideas. One veteran DPJ lawmaker told me: "The DPJ has screwed up its rise to power. There was no planning before we took over the government. It was clear we wouldn't succeed. When we should have been confronting the LDP government with everything we had, we didn't do it. The DPJ blew it."

A midlevel DPJ Diet member had this to say: "There's no place within the party to say anything. Why did they abolish the Policy Affairs Research Council? I don't get it. We can't discuss policy matters within the party."

Everything is decided by DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa. The rest of the party is supposed to fall in line. That's Ozawa's dictatorial system. For many Diet members, it's becoming too much to bear.

The DPJ needs to ignite a revolution from within.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prosecutors Mustn't Allow Separation of Powers to Weaken

The Feb. 18 edition of Shukan Bunshun ran an article entitled: "Ozawa's Derisive Laugh; What is the Special Investigative Unit Doing?" What happened in the prosecutor's office? Independent administration of justice is the jewel of democracy.

From the Feb. 18 edition of Shukan Bunshun: "'Seventy percent of the nation wants him to resign. We can prosecute Ozawa.' Why did the prosecutors saying these things go silent? They were weighed down by passive executives arguing that they didn't want to 'provoke the Democratic Party of Japan.'"

If this information is true, it means the leadership in the judicial branch buckled under once Ichiro Ozawa and the Hatoyama administration applied pressure. The article points the finger at Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano, but the truth should be revealed in the Diet. If the judiciary doesn't have the courage to execute its duties, we'll see even more corrupt politicians. When the political fund control law is violated, it will be the secretary who is punished as the influential politician walks away scot-free. If the prosecutors really did buckle to pressure from the administration, then Ozawa's DPJ can pretty much do as it pleases.

The nightmare scenario would have the prosecutors at Ozawa's beck and call. At the very least, we hope that the prosecutors will not play a role in Ozawa's political vengeance. If they do acquiesce, then Japan will enter its own Stalin era. We need our judicial branch to be strong and independent. The separation of powers is fundamental to democracy. The prosecutor's office must not yield to political power.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Morita to Speak on FCCJ's Urban Security Panel

Morita-san will be on a panel at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on March 2 from 11:30 to discuss "Security and Crisis Management in the Megapolis." Here's the brief from the FCCJ:

"Security and Crisis Management in the Megalopolis"

Time: 2010 Mar 02 11:30 - 13:30

Koki Kaku, Associate Professor of National Defense Medical College
Minoru Morita, Political Commentator
Toshiyuki Shikata, Professor of Teikyo University & Security Counselor to the Governor, Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Yoshihiro Yamaguchi, Professor of Kyorin University


The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with simultaneous interpretation.


Will life in the city be better tomorrow? Will it be safer? More secure? Urban living and whether large metropolises can meet the needs of their inhabitants are becoming increasingly important subjects for city planners, sociologists and crisis management officials. The root cause of course is explosive population growth.

In 2000, Tokyo was among 18 mega-cities that have populations in excess of 10 million inhabitants. Tokyo's metropolitan area, which encompasses 87 towns, has 35.7 million people, more than the entire population of Canada.

By 2025 there will be 27 mega-cities in the world, and Tokyo, with 36.4 million people in its urban agglomeration, is projected to remain the world's biggest metropolis. Asia alone will have at least 10 hyper-cities. Among them, each having populations exceeding 20 million: Mumbai at 33 million; Shanghai, 27 million; Karachi, 26.5 million, Dhaka, 25 million; and Jakarta, 24.9 million. By 2050, India will have 55 percent of its people in urban centers

This explosion of population impacts almost every aspect of our lives including the air we breathe and water we drink, access to food and energy resources, and availability of housing and schooling. Population growth will increase the risk of terrorist attacks and the spread of killer diseases, there can be big casualties in natural disasters.

The subject of our panel discussion will be the role of government in meeting future challenges of urban living and what risks we face if no political action is taken.

Our distinguished group of panelists includes Professor Toshiyuki Shikata of Teikyo University and Security Counselor to the Tokyo Governor Ishihara, Associate Professor Koki Kaku, National Defense Medical College, Professor Yoshihiro Yamaguchi of Kyorin University, and Minoru Morita, one of Japan's most prominent and respected political commentator. Come look into their crystal ball.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The DPJ's Potentially Short Stay on Top

If the party doesn't find solutions for the Ozawa and Hatoyama scandals, fix its mistaken economic policies and check its arrogance, it won't be in power much longer

What should the Democratic Party of Japan being doing right now? Looking for a way to solve the three very large problems it faces. I'd like to see them grow beyond being Ozawa's children and become politicians who can think for themselves and are willing to fight injustice and irrationality.

First, the party needs to clearly separate money from politics. Specifically, it needs to solve the Ozawa and Hatoyama scandals. Just because Ichiro Ozawa is not being prosecuted doesn't mean he has no responsibility for what happened. The citizens and the Diet should pursue a thorough review of his political and moral responsibility. We should show renewed interest in Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's money scandal too. The party has been too passive about these scandals. The country is disappointed with the DPJ's dependency on Ozawa.

Second, the mistaken economic policies embraced by Hatoyama need to be changed in a hurry. The policies his administration is supporting are basically the same as the structural reform policies of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. They both support fiscal reform over everything else, favor big money and want to reduce public works. These policies will crush Japan. We'll be in trouble if we don't change them.

Third, the arrogance and disdain of party chief Ozawa and premier Hatoyama have to be acknowledged and challenged. Hatoyama comes off like a soft-spoken man, but deep down he's arrogant too. He turns defiant quickly. He's egotistical and arrogant — a politician with a sense of entitlement. Ozawa, on the other hand, is consistently arrogant. He's cut from the cloth of dominating politicians such as Kakuei Tanaka or Shin Kanemaru. Transport Minister Maebara is another arrogant and cold-blooded politician. Once the decision to not prosecute Ozawa is final, his swagger will be even more pronounced. We need to ratchet up our criticism of these people.

At the very least, the members of the DPJ need to become the "thinking reeds" of which Blaise Pascal wrote. Think with your own brain; liberate yourself. Then tackle the three big problems facing the party.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ozawa, Take One Step Back to Gain Two Steps Forward

The DPJ, DSP and PNP must not get wrapped up in Ozawa's personal legal battles; the best solution is for Ozawa to pull himself out of the picture

I am compelled to again call for Ichiro Ozawa to step down as party chairman.

Japan is facing serious danger. The economy is at a critical juncture. Regional economies have lost their spark. Bankruptcies of midsize and small businesses continue to soar. Unemployment is worsening. If we leave things as they are, Japan is in danger of collapsing.

For the Hatoyama administration to focus on finding a way to break out of this economic funk, it needs to distance itself from the public battle between Ozawa and the prosecutors. This could happen if Ozawa steps down as president of the Democratic Party of Japan.

The issue of whether political fund laws were broken should be decided in the halls of justice. Ozawa needs to separate this fight from the political world and take it up in court. Change this political feud to a judicial one. If Ozawa takes his battle out of the political sphere, it's likely he'll be lauded in the future as a great politician. He would do well to remember that "those who flow with the river ride the rapids smoothly" and give himself up.

Ozawa and some of his supporters imply that if he were to step down as party chief, the DPJ would collapse. That's absurd. The DPJ can survive just fine without him. In fact, the party could start to use the concentrated strength of all its members. The time has come for the DPJ to bid farewell to the Ozawa era.