The Japan Considered Podcast Archive

Weekly programs of analysis and commentary on Japan’s domestic politics and foreign relations. Role of the prime minister and cabinet, changes in Japan's domestic political environment, connecting voters and candidates, constitutional revision, and Japan’s relations with other Asian nations. These broadcasts are created by Japan Considered Project creator/maintainer, Robert Angel, and include short interviews with other specialists on Japanese politics and international relations

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September 2008

September 14 , 2008; Volume 04, Number 26

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Today we consider what really motivated Prime Minister Fukuda on Monday, September 1st, to announce his intention to resign the premiership. My explanation is considerably different from what appears to be consensus opinion within Japan's political media.

In brief, I doubt that Fukuda was motivated by frustration with the job, with himself, or with others. And that he just threw in the towel. Irresponsibly, carelessly, or selfishly.

I believe Fukuda's resignation represents a carefully orchestrated effort to save the Traditionalist character of the LDP, while maintaining the LDP as Japan's majority parliamentary party.

And, I believe this difference in interpretation helps us better to understand what's actually going on now within the LDP. And probably to better understand the behavior of Taro Aso should he be elected as the LDP's next president, and Japan's next prime minister. And as of today, at least, it seems likely that the race is Aso's to lose.

It further suggests to me that Aso will assume the LDP presidency trying to ride two horses: One to maintain the public approval that he and most everyone else now recognizes as essential to keeping his job; and another with which he'll try to persuade the LDP's Reformists not to bolt the Party. But without allowing significant reforms in the way the LDP has traditionally operated.

I've never tried to ride two horses at once. But it looks to me like a dangerous trick!