As noted earlier, the most miserably pointless and demoralizing election in memory (How pointless? Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has decided to not make a single change in his Cabinet -- and you will not believe the reasons given for this decision: Link - Video J) has, for no good but plenty of bad reasons, unleashed a torrent of some of the best writing on Japanese politics ever.
It is worthwhile to offer another list of links to good reads:
Tobias Harris - "When Is a Blowout Not a Blowout?"
Mr. Harris and I, working from the same facts, came to essentially the same conclusions in the first hours after the election. I, writing for my blog, published first. Harris, because he is an assiduous worker bee, published a more comprehensive and readable article on someone else's calendar.
Sheila Smith - "Another Four Years of Abe"
Smith points out a major problem facing Abe: what to do about Koizumi Shinjiro, the Liberal Democratic Party's most popular and saleable legislator. The latest Koizumi in the Diet received the most votes of any LDP winner despite spending almost no time in his own district campaigning. Instead Koizumi played the good soldier, campaigning all over the country for other LDP candidates.
Abe tried burying Koizumi in Fukushima-related issues in the previous Diet. With Koizumi coming off a huge win, this may be more difficult.
Corey Wallace - "Not too early to start thinking about the 2016 election?"
As you can guess from the title, the soon-to-be Dr. Wallace (fingers crossed) does not think so. The Democratic Party of Japan has survived as an institution thanks to the large number of seats it has quarantined off in the House of Councillors. That block of seats comes up for reelection in 2016 - meaning that the new party leader, who is to be elected on January 18 (Why do they tarry? Amaterasu only knows) will have to quickly bring all the disparate groupings within the party into line and workout a modus vivendi with Japan Innovation Party.
Wallace also sees the election as enhancing the powers of the DPJ's rokuninshu, the six center-right legislators seen as potential leaders (The Yomiuri Shimbun less charitably calls them "the Gang of Six") of the party. I hope he is wrong, as all with the possible exception of current party secretary-general and next party leader favorite Edano Yukio are infected with the leaden seriousness that hobbles the party at election time. Politics should be about joy and these guys (and they are all guys) are not the Joy Division.
Okumura Jun - "Election 2014: The DPJ and JIP Need to Get Their Acts Together—Literally"
I cannot agree with Okumura Jun's conclusion that the DPJ and the Japan Innovation Party have to merge. Any attempt to link up the DPJ's remnants of the Japan Socialist Party with Hashimoto Toru's populists would lead to an explosion. Better to leave the two parties seperate, each running their candidates in designated DPJ-only or JIP-only districts, to challenging the LDP's conservative corporatism on the national scale with two radically different critiques.
Later - Many thanks to the commenters pointing out the broken link.
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