DPJ should firmly refuse Ozawa's unreasonable demand
Former Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa has made an unreasonable demand connected to his threats to bolt from the party. This tactic is fitting for the man dubbed the "destroyer," but we urge the DPJ leadership to flatly refuse his demand.
Ozawa held talks with DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi three times and said that he intends to leave the party with a group of lawmakers who support him if bills related to comprehensive reform of the social security and taxation systems are voted on and passed at the House of Councillors.
Koshiishi urged Ozawa to reconsider, and negotiations between them are continuing. Ozawa expressed his intention to make a final decision on whether to leave the DPJ as early as the beginning of next week.
Ozawa's demand is very unreasonable and impossible for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to accept, as he has staked his own political career on passage of the bills.
However, it is a problem that Koshiishi is considering making some concessions to avoid a split in the DPJ.
Tail wagging the dog
The bills were revised based on an agreement reached among the ruling DPJ, the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito. The agreement has significant meaning since it was compiled based on mutual concessions among the three parties.
However, Ozawa and a few dozen DPJ lawmakers cast ballots against the bills in the House of Representatives. Since that meant a rebellion against the three-way agreement, the LDP and Komeito have responded strongly against their action.
Nonetheless, if the DPJ leadership makes concessions to win Ozawa over, it will be the tail wagging the dog.
The rebellion by Ozawa and others is the inevitable price the DPJ leadership must pay for closing its eyes and trying to cover up serious intraparty conflict over policy issues in the name of maintaining harmony within the DPJ. The chasm in the DPJ is already beyond repair.
What Koshiishi should do is hand down a tough punishment for Ozawa.
First, Ozawa's claim lacks legitimacy, even though he sticks fast to the DPJ's election pledges and insists that the party must carry out its promises to voters.
Nearly two years and 10 months have passed since the DPJ took power. The party's manifesto said it would be possible to generate a total of 16.8 trillion yen annually by squeezing the state budget, but that has already fallen by the wayside. Ozawa was DPJ secretary general for more than eight months, but there is no evidence that he tried to make the election pledges a reality at that time.
Ozawa is now arguing that other things should be done before raising the consumption tax rate or that the DPJ should return to the starting point at which the party took power from the LDP. But nobody can trust Ozawa unless he clearly shows concrete measures for administrative reform and economic revival.
Ozawa joined the DPJ after forming and dissolving the Japan Renewal Party (Shinseito), the New Frontier Party (Shinshinto) and the Liberal Party since his exit from the LDP 19 years ago.
He is attached to a high-handed and self-righteous political style, which prioritizes political gamesmanship over policy measures, and also to money politics.
"First of all, I myself must change," Ozawa declared in April 2006 when he assumed the post of DPJ president.
However, his moves toward departure from the party show that Ozawa's political style has not changed at all.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 30, 2012)