Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The DPJ Splits into the Public Opinion Slaves (Kan) and the Anti-Public Opinion Camp (Ozawa)

How long can the Ozawa camp endure as it battles public opinion?

The Aug. 29 edition of the Tokyo Shimbun contained the results of a Kyodo News poll conducted on Aug. 27-28. The poll revealed that when people were asked which candidate they wanted to lead the party, 69.9% answered Naoto Kan while 15.6% said Ichiro Ozawa. Among Democratic Party of Japan supporters, 82% opted for Kan. Prime Minister Kan's cabinet won 48.1% support, up 9.4% from the last survey. Kan's stance on ridding the party of Ozawa's influence is winning support. On Aug. 30, other papers also published the results. No matter how you cut it, Prime Minister Kan has a big lead.

However, Ozawa enjoys strong support from DPJ lawmakers in the Diet. Even if Kan has support among party members and local legislators, if Ozawa exerts pressure on Diet members, it will be hard for Kan to prevail.It's clear that Ozawa is leading in the early stages of the campaign. But public opinion is not behind him. In Tokyo, Diet legislators are voicing their support for Ozawa, but in the provincial districts they are being noncommittal. Most DPJ members try to strike a balance between a middle road and the desires of voters in the provinces. But how long can they maintain this balance of contradictory views? If Ozawa wins, his administration would begin by opposing public opinion. It looks like the party is at a dangerous crossroads. If Ozawa wins, the party will go from being a slave to public opinion to becoming a foe of it. The former is not a good approach, but the latter is much worse.

I want to reach out to the DPJ one more time: Don't you have a candidate who can carve out a third way that is not the Ozawa or Kan way? If the DPJ comes up with a third candidate, it could escape both the Kan and Ozawa paths at the same time. Why won't the DPJ go down this third path?