Japan Today



Ozawa shows his disloyalty to Kan

By Lee Jay Walker

On Wednesday, DPJ bigwig Ichiro Ozawa criticized party leader and Prime Minister Naoto Kan for his leadership in handling the triple disasters facing Japan from about a month ago. In doing so, Ozawa once more shows the nature of politics in Japan where factionalism and boosting personal power bases are a reality for many political bigwigs. Despite the seriousness of the ongoing crisis, Ozawa obviously feels it is an opportunistic time to lambast the leader of the ruling party.

Instead of heeding the calls by Kan that now is a time of national unity, it appears that Ozawa cares little little about national unity or being loyal to the party to which he belongs. Instead, he is dreaming of being the future leader of Japan. It is, for him, a time to jump on the bandwagon and blame Kan for ills which do not belong to the current prime minister of Japan.

After all, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) had a close relationship with the government of Japan under various Liberal Democratic Party governments. With this knowledge, and the reality that Ozawa was once the former secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), then maybe he is suffering from memory loss.

In truth, Ozawa is an enigmatic political leader in Japan and this applies to his energy, creativity, strong-mindedness and other positive factors. However, he is also self-destructive and a destroyer and clearly he is not being loyal during a time of great trauma for Japan.

Ozawa has been called a “shadow shogun” because of his influence which is very strong within the DPJ. However, in recent times, a political fund scandal has eroded his influence and image but true to his nature, Ozawa refuses to be “put out to pasture.”

Therefore, the current crisis may be seen to be a time of opportunism for the “shadow shogun” because it appears that principles and politics do not go hand in hand with many powerful politicians. Also, the factionalism which is destroying the body politic in Japan is once more rearing itself. This applies to recent comments made by Ozawa toward his own political leader and is further evidence of Ozawa sinking into the pits of contempt and political shenanigans.

Ozawa lambasted Kan not from sincerity but because of his desire for political office and if he destroys what he helped to create, then this will not concern him. He attacked his own party leader and implied that the leadership of Kan is inept. How can Ozawa say this with a straight face, when he had ample time during his LDP days to demand safety procedures or raise serious issues related to TEPCO?

Ozawa stated, “The irresponsible way the cabinet is dealing (with the disasters), with Prime Minister Naoto Kan himself not exercising leadership, could lead to further disasters.” He also stated that “I strongly accept the crushing defeat as the public serving notice to the Kan administration” and this applies to recent local elections which were held in Japan. Ozawa added that the “disaster-hit victims are greatly anxious about whether (the government) can restore their lives and the state of their hometowns.”

In 2009, the DPJ broke the stranglehold of LDP rule which had virtually led Japan since the end of World War II. It was meant to usher in a new political dawn but Ozawa belongs to the old political ways of the LDP and members who jumped ship from the LDP to the DPJ share those old ways. Since coming to power, the DPJ has been unable to break the faction-based politics in Japan and until this problem is tackled, respect for politicians will remain minimal. These latest comments by Ozawa are further evidence of that.

Ozawa was first elected to the Diet of Japan in 1969 and he remained within the LDP until the early 1990s. Then he left the LDP because of opportunism and because he was close to Shin Kanemaru who wielded strong power. However, once Kanemaru was embroiled in a corruption scandal in 1992, Ozawa decided to “jump ship” in 1993 along with Tsutomu Hata. This created instability within the LDP and it ended their 38-year dominance of political government. The splinter party under Hata and Ozawa was called the Japan Renewal Party.

However, the Japan Socialist Party was upset by Ozawa’s foreign policy comments and they joined a coalition with the LDP. After this debacle, the great creator and destroyer then entered the fray within the New Frontier Party which had been created in 1994 by Toshiki Kaifu.

The confusing nature of Japanese politics meant that after the New Frontier Party began to destroy itself from within, Ozawa once more helped to create the Liberal Party. He even floated the notion of rejoining the LDP after forming a coalition with the LDP and Keizo Obuchi was thinking deeply about this.

Yet Hiromu Nonaka, Junichiro Koizumi, Taku Yamasaki, Koichi Kato and other important political figures would not entertain the return of Ozawa irrespective of whether a coalition occurred or not. Once the door had been shut on Ozawa within the LDP, he then moved his party and joined the DPJ in 2003. He soon rose quickly because he was elected to be the head of this political organization and he soon brushed off the pension scandal which emerged in 2004.

However, other scandals emerged, such as the fund-raising probe, and it is difficult for Ozawa to distance himself from them. Despite this, he still dreams of being the leader of Japan and his disloyalty is clear for all to see because his political career is about self-interest and self-promotion.

It is time for the DPJ to become a proper political party which is based on being loyal to DPJ principles. Ozawa should not belong to the future of the DPJ and factionalism needs to end.

Kan and members who are true to the DPJ should either force Ozawa out or limit his enormous power base within the DPJ. If not, then either he will seek to obtain power by undermining the current leader of the DPJ or he will drag the DPJ down.

© Modern Tokyo Times

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No class at all from Jabba the Hut. Japanese politics is full of old childish arrogant men out to line their pockets and nothing else. If you watch the Parliamentary debates what strikes me is the childish jeering and personal attacks on each other, nothing to do with debating policies. Using this to launch a takeover of the party is disguisting. It`s the ideal chance to show people that in times of crisis we can all get together as adults and try to sort out where to go from here - Ozawa chose to self promote, sums him up in a nutshell.

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Despite this, he still dreams of being the leader of Japan and his disloyalty is clear for all to see because his political career is about self-interest and self-promotion.

Yeah, clear for all to see, but he'll probably end up PM because people are stupid.

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Self interested megalomaniac. Ozawa. Get gone and be still.

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I wonder if Japanese realize how shocking and reckless their government appears. At a time of a national disaster I would expect politicians to come together (even briefly) to forge a plan to help the tsunami victims. I saw LDP bigwigs last night on TV criticizing Kan, it is unbelievable that they would do so at this time.

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Ozawa has proven time and time again that he is loyal to only one person. That being the guy with the ugly mug staring back at him every morning in the mirror. He reprsents everything that is wrong with Japanese politics.

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This is the first piece from JT where the author seems to have really done his homework...Well written and very informative.

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This is the first piece from JT where the author seems to have really done his homework...Well written and very informative.

Agreed. My jaw was dropping when I read this, surely it wasn't a translate from Kyodo...Aah it is written by a Journalist working for White and Leejay out of Philadelphia. I doubt a piece that says what people actually think like this one does would ever be published in the Japanese press.

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DPJ bigwig Ichiro Ozawa

When is this guy going to prison? That is the story i want to read about in regards to this DPJ big(censored word).

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move along folks nothing new to see here. the only person or party ozawa is loyal to is ozawa. he doesn't care about the japanese people at all.

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Ozawa is an opportunistic, grandstanding politician in every negative sense of the word one can imagine. It's partly upon his urging that Kan has been having a devil of a time trying to get the opposition parties to set aside their political ambitions in favor of working on a comprehensive reconstruction plan, including the raising and allocation of monies.

On another note, that there hasn't been an angry backlash from the electorate in response to the opposition parties' near unanimous refusal to work with Kan in this dire hour is astounding. I just can't believe people aren't pissed about the blatant political opportunism that's going on in Tokyo right now.

Kan, on the other hand, would get my vote in a heartbeat (if I could vote, that is) if there were a snap election tomorrow. He's honest, pragmatic, and working hard to stay above the wild pack of jackals that make up the Upper and Lower Houses.

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Ozawa shows only loyalty to himself. This should be pretty damn obvious to anyone living here more than 5 minutes. That he'd exploit this tragedy for himself, shouldn't really come as a surprise. The man is a crook and will do absolutely anything to divert the public's attention from the mess he's really in.

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This is going to be a "wild" year, and who knows what position former SecGen Ozawa will be in, if at all. The clock on PM Kan is ticking, so who knows?......

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An excellent article, written in a very professional way that gives the reader a good glimpse at how fickle the Japanese political areana really is.

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Yet, he didn't mention at all what he had done if he were the leader.

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I agree that it is nice to see some quality writing on this site once in a while, but it is disappointing that the author has gone the easy route on basically following the Kisha-club/LDP/beaurocracy line of continuing to demonize him in the press.

First up, let's be clear - Ozawa isn't exactly Jack Kennedy reborn. He lacks charisma and general popular appeal, and his ability to survive in Japanese politics for so long is in part due to his ability to understand and play the game of Japanese politics arguably better than anyone else.

He has also survived because he isn't greedy. In spite of having had chances to lead the Democrats, Liberals and LDP in the past in the typical fly by night way that most PMs do, having a brief stint in leadership and then going into quiet semi-retirement, he has survived by being willing to step back and allow others to take the top posts in order to continue to maintain a position of influence and authority within his party.

Now, I like Ozawa, basically because he is the only person who I believe is capable of (1) ensuring that the DPJ can survive another election, (2) instituting the reforms necessary to remove the beaurocratic stranglehold over policymaking, (3) forming policies free of administrative guidance that Japan needs to modernize and reform its economic and political system, in the ways that he understands need to be done. He also understand the cold hard realities about Japan's relations with China and the US.

Kan strikes me as being generally probably a much nicer guy, but the author talks about factionalism like it is all coming from Ozawa and conveniently overlooked several facts, such as the fact that the DPJ is basically half made up of Liberal Party members, including Hatoyama who personally is the financial anchor of the party - Hatoyama and Ozawa understood the need for cross factional cooperation in the Hatoyama government with posts being awarded to ex socialists like Kan as well as more conservative former Liberal party members.

Kan used Hatoyama's demise opportunistically to disenfranchise nearly 50% of his party shutting out all ex-Liberal members from leading party posts and backpeddalling on the policies masterminded by Ozawa that got the DPJ elected into power. Take a look at the last DPJ conference and how proposals to update the manifesto were railroaded through the party (even with Ozawa absent) and the chaos that happened with worried DPJ members from those factions asking how they were supposed to go back and explain that the party was unwinding the platforms they had been elected on.

Then look further at the complete disaster of the last upper house election under Kan, who used his brief time campaigning to break or recant most of the party's popular existing manifesto policies and speculate out loud about raising sales tax. Ozawa is a professional election campaigner responsible for getting the DPJ into power. Look at Kan's record. The man is a professional loser of elections. He has always been competent given a ministerial post, as he was in the ministry of finance under Hatoyama - but he shows next to zero leadership. Most people think Japan has been run by Edano throughout the recent crisis.

Kan somehow decided, as he has in the past, that he could get away with excluding half his party and giving all posts only to his good friends, and somehow they would all make it work and he would be successful at the next election. That has never happened before and it is not happening now - Kan is proving to be a train wreck of party leadership and is endangering the faint promise of Japan having a viable party to swap power periodically with the LDP.

Then take the funds law prosecution of Ozawa - the author seems well informed enough to understand that scandals don't get broken in the mainstream media spontaneously in Japan. They get broken because the Kanryo in kasumigaseki pull the file on someone they think is getting too uppity. And they fear what might happen to their power base if Ozawa gets into too much of a position of power within the government.

In spite of prosecutors deciding 3 times that he had no case to answer, the trial by media was already over and a grand jury decided to proceed regardless. His number was up and the institution was doing what was necessary to stop him shaking things up, as is so desperately needed.

Instead of Kan supporting the leader of the conservative half of his party, he threw him, and all the young new DPJ politicians that give them their tenuous majority in the Diet under the bus. Who is being factional and opportunistic?

I agree with the author that now is as good a time as any to "end" factionalism in Japanese politics, but it should be done through inclusion, not by declaring the former socialists winners and demanding everyone else keep their views to themselves.

I will agree with the author that I think this is a time that the government does need to pull together for better or worse. LDP said yesterday that they would submit a motion of no confidence in the PM over his performance in the crisis - I think the time for any such motion should come after the crisis is more resolved. Ozawa could certainly be said to have chosen damaging timing to make his criticisms.

However, if the government wants to solidify and reassert internal consensus, the factional games need to stop from those in power and they need to start listening to their constituents and young members who are responsible for getting them into power. And these political charades with the prosecution of Ozawa need to end soon as well.

Ozawa isn't much, but I think within Japanese politics, he is the best hope for someone capable of instituting real and necessary reform that exists.


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Ozawa should be sacked from office and from the Party !

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I wish Ozawa and the LDP could read this and realize what they are doing. I wish Kan and the DPJ could read this article and force this selfish politician to resign.

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I would be shocked if Ozawa supported Kan.

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Ozawa shows his disloyalty to Kan

He destroyed DPJ since he challenged Kan's leadership in September, 2011 and divided DPJ by asking his DPJ supporters to discredit Kan's capability and create troubles more and less. What is the point now?

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Correction: September, 2010, not 2011.

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I don't give a rat's derrier if he is a bigwig. He is a politician. The only question he has to answer is "What have you done for me lately?"

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Sarge - Ozawa gave Kan the minister of finance post when Hatoyama was in govt. He was quite inclusive of Kan's former socialist factions.

Kan is the guy not playing ball and threatening the DPJ.

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