Steve's Blog

Monseki-ketsugi WTF?

Author: Stephen J. Turnbull
Organization: Faculty of Engineering, Information, and Systems at the University of Tsukuba
Contact: Stephen J. Turnbull <>
Date: 2012/08/30
Copyright: 2012, Stephen J. Turnbull

The upper house of the Japanese Diet just passed a resolution of no-confidence in the cabinet of Prime Minister Noda. (Resolutions passed by the upper house are non-binding, unlike those of the lower house which essentially forces the cabinet to resign.) As usual with such things, the vote proceeded on party lines, and therefore succeeded in the opposition-controlled upper house.

What is bizarre about this resolution is the content. Specifically, the resolution censures the Prime Minister for succeeding in passing a tax increase law, a law which the leading opposition party (and not incidentally, a sponsor of the resolution) had advocated and participated in passing, despite a division in the ruling party!

Japan is now facing many great problems: a rapidly aging society with a huge amount of debt -- a debt-to-GDP ratio of 2, far worse than Greece or Italy, a long period of low growth, reconstruction after the great earthquake disaster of March 11, 2011, and an energy crisis created by the nuclear accident that followed the earthquake. Given these pressing problems, playing games for abstract political "points" is highly irresponsible.

Not to mention that it's probably just plain stupid. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has shown distinct self-destructive tendencies. Left to its own devices, it will have difficulty merely surviving the next election, let alone achieving confirmation as a plausible future choice to form governments. Its only hope is for the Liberal Democratic Party to behave in socially harmful ways -- which anti-strategy seems to be the LDP's choice.

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Stephen J. Turnbull