Posted by debito on June 7th, 2009
Hi Blog. Here’s the best reason I can see for voting for (and urging your relatives to vote for) the opposition DPJ yet. And no, it’s not a NJ issue. It’s the issue of seshuu seijika (世襲政治家), or politicians with inherited Diet seats.
In my view, inherited seats and political dynasties to this degree are the biggest reason we have so much rot in Japan’s democratic institutions: gormless politicians who neither understand how the other (poorer) half of Japan lives, nor have any reason to rock the boat and institute any real reforms of the status quo — because they’re a political elite with their future estates sewn up for life.
For example, either way the next election swings, we’ll have Aso (grandson of former PM Yoshida Shigeru and son of a former Dietmember) or Hatoyama Yukio (grandson of former PM Hatoyama Ichiro and son of a former Dietmember too). All thoroughbreds. As have most PMs been in the past couple of decades.
I talk more about this in the context of just how myopic Japan’s policymaking is in a Japan Times article back in December 2007. It’s one of my best, so have a look. Excerpt:
Politicians are even further out of touch. No wonder, considering they are effectively a peerage masquerading as an elected legislature.
After the last election, 185 of 480 Diet members (39%) were second- or third- (or more) generation politicians (seshuu seijika). Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically all the postwar period), 126 (52%) are seshuu seijika. Likewise eight of the last ten Prime Ministers, and around half the Abe and Fukuda Cabinets. When the average turnover per election is only around 3%, you have what can only be termed a political class.
Any political party willing to limit the powers of its own politicians is worth a second look. So now read with the Japan Times has to say about it. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
The revision proposed by the largest opposition party to the Political Funds Control Law would restrict relatives within three degrees of kinship — up to nieces or nephews — of retired or deceased Diet members from inheriting a seat and running in the same electoral district as their predecessor.
One-third of ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers are said to have inherited their father’s or grandfather’s constituencies, as well as their campaign machines and political funding sources.
Rest of the article at…
Those who “inherit” campaign machines, political funds and electoral districts from a close relative are dubbed “hereditary lawmakers.” While the practice has been going on for years, it now has become a red-hot issue.
The Democratic Party of Japan has decided to adopt a party rule that will prohibit new candidates from running in future elections if they fit the definition of a hereditary politician. By adopting this rule, the party apparently wants to deflect criticism of the party and former party leader Mr. Ichiro Ozawa following the arrest of his chief aide in connection with alleged political donation irregularities.
The DPJ’s move may have a positive effect on Japanese politics in the long run. According to Kyodo News, about 130 people who plan to run in the 300 single-seat constituencies in the coming Lower House election have parents or grandparents who were Diet members. About 110 of them have been elected from the same constituencies as their parents or grandparents — about 90 of them belong to the Liberal Democratic Party and about 20 are with the DPJ. Among them are Mr. Ozawa and former Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda.
Read the rest at:
With only a few months remaining until the next Lower House election must be called, the Liberal Democratic Party has postponed a plan to restrict so-called hereditary candidates until after the campaign, party sources said Tuesday.
The postponement comes amid speculation that Prime Minister Taro Aso may dissolve the Lower House in late June or early July and call a snap election in early or late August. The current term of Lower House members expires in September.
The LDP apparently failed to forge a consensus among its members, many of whom are from well-established political families. Such a rule would prevent their kin from inheriting not only their electoral districts but also their support groups and fundraising machines.
Because of their easy wins in elections, such hereditary politicians are often criticized for an inability to grasp voter sentiment or develop policies that connect with the public.
The LDP has judged that excluding hereditary candidates, some of whom have already obtained informal endorsements as the party’s official candidates in the upcoming election, “would harm the LDP’s trustworthiness,” the sources said…
Rest of the article at: