Tomorrow Japan’s masses are off to the polls to make their voices heard in the first national election this year. In a nation that has had six prime-ministers since Obama became president, one election per year might indicate relative stability. But, in truth, Japanese politics has no need for elections. The Prime-Ministers dance in and out of office of their own volition. It’s like a performance of Swan Lake, without the tutus (I guess the tutus only come out behind closed doors, but I wouldn’t want to know about that.)
This time it’s likely that the nationalist hawk Shinzo Abe will return to the post he abandoned 3 years ago. back then he was the Golden Boy of the party and the heir apparent to the Koizumi dynasty. Before taking office he’d written a book about all the things he’d do as Prime Minister. But he didn’t have a chance to do much of anything. After a year he stepped down due to health issues. Probably a paper cut. They sting for days. But don’t worry, he’s OK now and looking for another term.
Back in the days when Abe was applying Neosporin to his wounds, the fledgling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) seized power from the perennial ruling party the Labor Democratic Party (LDP). The DPJ was really just a bunch of LDP guys who decided they wanted to play in a different sandbox, so they made some promises they couldn’t keep and everyone loved them. It was a good idea. After all Japan needed some fresh ideas. But no popular ideas would come from these guys either, so December 16th the Japanese public is likely to show them the door too.
So who wins in all this? Printers, maybe. They have to print up the campaign posters. And the people who decorate the cars that drive around advertising the candidates. And maybe the people who serve refreshments near the polling places. It must be a good day for them.
But Abe’s flag waving nationalism aside, he does have an idea for the economy of Japan. And Japan is still in need of ideas. As long as Abe keeps this otherwise military averse nation from entering a war with China… or Korea… over relatively insignificant islands somewhere in the Pacific, his economic ideas might lead the way to a new prosperity. Not a bubble, but some real direction for this economically hapless nation. Or maybe not… which wouldn’t be much different from anybody else. At least he’ll keep the PM’s seat warm until next year, when someone else will reluctantly inherit Japan’s top office and least desirable job..