Foreign Policy Blogs

If Kan stays, Ozawa goes

If Kan stays, Ozawa goes

Ichiro Ozawa telling reporters Wednesday night he may form a new political party (again).

Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Ichiro Ozawa said late Wednesday that he plans to break off from the DPJ and form a new party if the no-confidence motion in DPJ Prime Minister Naoto Kan fails. One hundred members of Kan’s own party are loyal to Ozawa, and 50 of those members plan to side with rivals Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito in submitting the motion.

The no-confidence motion is claimed to be a protest against Kan’s handling of the aftermath of the March 11 quake and tsunami and ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Kan’s rivals said a cabinet that has failed to present a clear reconstruction plan presents “a big obstacle” to Japan’s future. However, I think a bigger obstacle to Japan’s future are these opportunistic politicians who have been searching for an excuse to oust Kan since he took office a year ago.

I have mentioned before how the short shelf-life of Japanese politicians undermines Japan’s foreign policy. Foreign governments have to start from scratch with a new prime minister on a yearly basis. For some reason, Japanese politicians don’t understand how their obstructionist tactics hurt their country, and the public hardly takes notice anymore of the frequent changes at the top.

The renegade Ozawa is called the “Shadow Shogun.” He is one of Japan’s most powerful politicians, despite the fact that he has an IQ of 40 (citation needed). He was originally an LDP politician, but broke from the party in 1994, forming the New Frontier Party, which quickly unraveled and became so factitious that Ozawa formed the Liberal Party in 1998. The Liberal Party formed a coalition with the LDP, but after Ozawa was shut out by LDP lawmakers, he merged his party with the DPJ in 2003. He was the president of the DPJ from 2006 to 2007, when he stepped down amidst a funds scandal. Like Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, Ozawa is known for his xenophobic rhetoric. Below are some of his greatest hits.

On Christianity:

(It’s an) exclusive and self-righteous religion. European and U.S. societies with a (historical) background of Christianity are bogged down.

On Islam:

It is better than Christianity, but it is also exclusive.

On the British:

I don’t like British people.

On Americans:

Why is the United States so simple? I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular. When I talk to Americans, I often wonder why they are so simple-minded.

Back at ya, Ozawa.

The Japanese public, feeling powerless in their country’s politics and adhering to a tradition of non-confrontation, tolerate such rhetoric from their politicians. I’m not sure many Japanese understand how detrimental it would be to their country if such a person were to become prime minister.

Ozawa was indicted in January over a slush-fund scandal.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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E-mail him: [email protected]