What’s behind the issue of readmitting “postal rebels” to the LDP?

When Koizumi kicked 37 Lower House members out of his own party for opposing his postal privatization bills, it made for brilliant political theater. But as the upper house has pointed out, banishing experienced politicians with extensive support networks can prove counterproductive in tougher election years. So, recently there has been a debate within the LDP over whether to allow some of the “rebels” back into the party. But apart from the general concerns over the upper house election, just what is behind this debate?

Thankfully, my efforts to scour every single Diet member’s web site have started to pay off. Opposition DPJ upper house member Tetsuro Fukuyama (Kyoto), has some guesses:

Tetsuro’s Diary, Nov. 6

(1) Of course this is a measure for next year’s upper house election. In single-member districts in every prefecture, success in the election will turn on whether powerful postal rebels take action. On top of that, Taiju, an association of [former] special post office [postmasters], and other groups are more than likely of a mind to fight in the proportional representation race using the organizational strength of the postal rebels. It’s first and foremost geared toward the election.

(2) As you may know, the deadline for Diet members to register for government subsidies for political parties is the last day of December. As you can see from the fact that the timing for people to join and leave parties has almost always been at the end of the year, it would not be surprising if this recent scandal, too, centers around the money. That’s because if the postal rebels and unaffiliated members were already members of the LDP, then the party’s subsidy, in other words the funding for its activities, would probably substantially decrease. Meanwhile, if the rebels manage to rejoin the party by the end of the year, their party subsidies coming to the LDP will increase. (tr: here he seems to be implying that the postal putsch was a scam to earn more party subsidies)

(3) Leading up to next year’s nationwide local elections, local assembly members have to deal with two Diet members in their districts, the postal rebels and the “assassins” sent in to replace them, likely resulting in quite a bit of confusion in the regions. This is a life-or-death issue for local Diet members of various affiliations, so they probably want to resolve this issue quickly.

(4) If the rebel issue continues to drag on, then the LDP will have to campaign for the upper house next year with an unpleasant aftertaste, and after the upper house election, a great amount of time and effort will be wasted sorting things out in preparation for the next lower house election. If the issue of bringing the rebels back into the party is left unresolved, then they cannot get to work preparing for the next lower house election.

(5) Still, public opinion would object if the LDP easily let them back, posing the risk that it might have a negative effect on the upper house election. This makes judgment difficult, and a decision cannot be reached. The Japanese people are watching the slowdown after ex-PM Koizumi closely, as they should. Although Abe and the LDP leadership are placing some sort of conditions on reinstatement, such as agreement with Abe’s policy speech and principles, it would be an understatement to say that such statements lack persuasiveness.

This reinstatement issue is only for the LDP and Diet members and election, and the Japanese people have nothing to do with it. In any case, they are taking the Japanese people for fools. The Japanese people should be more angry at the fact that this type of debate is taking place.

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