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2010年6月 6日 (日)

菅首相:誕生 「脱小沢」本物か=専門編集委員・山田孝男

(Mainichi Japan) June 5, 2010
Will Ozawa maintain influence on DPJ under new order?
菅首相:誕生 「脱小沢」本物か=専門編集委員・山田孝男

The focal point of the latest political change is whether ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa will maintain his influence on the party after resigning as secretary-general.
The administration of newly elected Prime Minister Naoto Kan will be formed early next week, at the same time as the DPJ's power structure has become unstable and a new balance of power is being formed. It remains to be seen whether Kan can bolster his power base or Ozawa will go on the offensive in an attempt to oust Kan, as the former secretary-general leads a major intraparty group comprised of about 150 legislators.

Remarks Kan made at a news conference to announce his candidacy in the DPJ presidential election drew particular attention from the public. "He (Ozawa) invited some kind of distrust from the public. So he should keep quiet for the time being."

Needless to say, Kan warned Ozawa -- who has been tainted by a political funding scandal involving his political fund management organization -- not to wield his influence on the administration.
However, Kan, a self-acknowledged realist, did not warn Ozawa out of idealism.

Reflecting on his struggle to manage the political party he led in the 1990s, when political realignment was under way in Japan, Kan has tried to learn a lot from Ozawa's power politics.

Therefore, one cannot help but wonder why Kan, who also badly needed support from the whole DPJ, dared to criticize Ozawa. This is obviously because Kan believes the Ozawa scandal has not only damaged the party's image but also begun to shake the party's backbone.

Ozawa's refusal to provide an explanation of the scandal has stirred severe criticism from the public. Ozawa, who has received massive amounts of political funds from general contractors, would never answer questions as to why he received so much money and how he spent it. He only stresses his receipt of the funds is legal and that it is wrong to ask further questions about the matter.

Ozawa has used his influence to leak internal government information on public works projects to regional communities and openly carry out influence-peddling politics, implying that regions that vote DPJ will see major infrastructure projects come their way.

Ozawa's massive political fund-raising drive and election campaign based on pork-barrel politics -- in which he mobilizes a large number of his aides to ensure that a large number of his followers win elections -- are both wheels of a cart called "the Ozawa system."

The Ozawa system is not a tonic that provides energy to the DPJ but a poison that spread a new type of insider politics in which all decisions depend on Ozawa's intentions. Public distrust of such politics has given rise to the Kan administration.

The newly elected prime minister is known as one of the most powerful debaters in the Diet. In particular, Kan is a staunch critic of bureaucratic corruption and overstepping of their authority. He has criticized bureaucrats for dominating information necessary to work out policies, aiming to ignore the will of the Diet as much as possible and thereby hollowing out the sovereignty of the people.

Will Kan be able to transform his sharp criticism of bureaucrats into skillful control over them? Can he control his administration without depending on Ozawa's influence? Whether he can eliminate Ozawa's influence on the government is being tested. (By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2010年6月5日 東京朝刊


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