Turning the clock of history backward
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s pride must have been hurt seriously. On November 14, he announced that he will dissolve the Lower House of the Japanese Diet. In a debate with Shinzo Abe, the leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, he said, “When I was in elementary school, I received poor grades. I showed the report card to my father, but instead of giving me a lecture, he stroked my head. He was very pleased that my conduct evaluation said, ‘Mr. Noda is an honest man.’”
When Prime Minister Noda pushed for processing a bill to double the sales tax in August, he earned the cooperation of the opposition by promising to dissolve the lower house. Three months have passed, but the dissolution didn’t occur. The Democratic Party was so unpopular that dissolving the parliament would mean losing power. Noda was left with few options.
He was bombarded with insults and criticism for not keeping his promise.
The Liberal Democratic Party called him a liar. Bunmei Ibuki, former secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, sarcastically said that “act like Noda” was a new verb for making an impromptu promise to escape a crisis, only to change words later. Conservative media derided that “in a near future” was the buzz phrase in politics in 2012.
The Prime Minister suffered from extreme stress. He is known as an eloquent speaker, as he had spoken to the public in front of the subway station in his district every day for 24 years. But in early November, he stuttered twice during an interpellation at the Diet. His aides were concerned that the Prime Minister was overtired.
Noda was pushed at a corner, and in the end, he even mentioned an episode from his childhood to claim that he was not a liar.Finally, he announced dissolution of the parliament.
The Japanese media described the situation as “Noda’s sword dance stabbing parties in the back.” While he kept his pride, his Democratic Party is in the most challenging situation now. It will not only be defeated by the Liberal Democratic Party but may even lose the second party position to Japan Restoration Party, a rightist alliance between Shintaro Ishihara and Toru Hashimoto.
As the election campaign began, Noda set the Democratic Party apart from the oppositions by announcing that the Democratic Party would not let second generation politicians to inherit their father’s district and would not join the rightist inclination of other parties.
However, Noda himself is a conservative figure when it comes to history and territorial issues, and he reversed the anti-bureaucratic tradition advocated by his predecessors. So his government was derided as “Liberal Democratic Party’s Noda faction”
His appeals for support for the Democratic Party sound so hollow, and the blade of his weapon is extremely dull. I don’t care about the end of the Democratic government, but I am resentful of Noda for letting the far right Liberal Democrats and Japan Restoration Party turn the clock of history backward.
* The author is the JoongAng Ilbo Tokyo correspondent.
by Seo Seung-wook