Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Democratic Party of Japan = Obama II

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which won the Lower House election in a landslide at the end of August, may be turning out to be almost an exact copy of the U.S. administration under President Obama.

Right before the election when I checked what's in their "manifest" (policies) and found some special legal consideration to help "transgenders" and the words like "community renewal" (no this is not ACORN, it's DPJ), I had a feeling that Japanese would regret their choice sooner than later. (After all, a significant number of voters voted against LDP, just like a significant voters here voted against GOP (Bush/Cheney).)

Right after their win, almost the first thing that their leadership did was to announce the creation by a cabinet order of a bureau directly under the control of the Prime Minister that is intended to be the center for devising and implementing the core national policies and directing bureaucrats in the ministries and agencies. Much like President Obama's use of presidential appointees, popularly known as Czars, whose functions overlap almost all aspects of the formal government departments and agencies.

I thought, "If this DPJ is Obama II, then the next thing they'll do will be to announce that they are going to tackle some dire problem head-on, and it will not be the economy."

Sure enough. I was right. Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of DPJ who's slated to become Prime Minister, wants to tackle green house gas effect. Oh boy.

25% Reduction Target [of Green House Gas] Will Damage the Economy, Ministers and Industries Worry (9/8/09 Yomiuri Shinbun, original in Japanese)

"Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama on September 7th announced Japan's target for reducing the green house gas in 2020 as "25% reduction from 1990 level". In response, ministers and industry leaders have expressed fear that the economy will be damaged by enormous cost that would be incurred in achieving such a target.

"Mr. Nikai, Minister of Economy,Trade and Industry, said in the press conference after the cabinet meeting, "To achieve such a target will be extremely difficult. It is not enough to simply express his hope. He needs to come up with the detailed process in order to achieve the target." Mr. Hayashi, Minister of Economy and Finance, also suggested that more deliberation and discussion is needed. "Environmental issues should not be at the expense of economy. We need more discussion within Japan before we proclaim it as a national policy."

"Cabinet Secretary Kawamura sounded skeptical in the press conference. "I am not sure we would be willing to proceed with the understanding that we won't be able to drive any car powered by gasoline."

"Industry leaders strongly fear that the heavy burden of new energy initiatives will fall on their companies, reducing their international competitiveness. Mr. Ito, president of Honda Motors wasn't too happy when he spoke in a conference on new technologies. "The target vastly exceed our plan. Extremely difficult to achieve." Toyota's president urged DPJ to reconsider. "Difficult target. We would urge [DPJ] to proceed cautiously."

"Environmental Minister Saito, who is from Komei Party which has the same reduction target as DPJ, was the only one who welcomed the DPJ's target. He said his party would be willing to cooperate with DPJ."

Komei Party, who was a junior coalition partner to LDP, is jockeying for a better position in the DPJ-led Diet.

Did Japan's economy take the gravest hit ever since World War II last fall, because of global warming? Japan's machinery orders dipped more than 9% in July, and the unemployment is all-time high (5.7% in July, which is measured differently from the U.S.). The current global recession revealed the same structural problems that Japan has had but were masked during the bubble years. It's the economy, Mr. Hatoyama!

And the first thing that this Prime Minister-to-be wants to do is to combat global warming. He also wants to make Japan more livable for foreigners, and wants to give the voting right to foreigners who live in Japan long enough. And help transgenders. And Cap and Trade.

Mr. Hatoyama's nickname is "space alien". Maybe he is. With the wacky wife of his, he may have been to Venus himself in a UFO to see the effect of green house gas. Good luck Japan, you'll need it.


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