While the financial turmoil has largely outcrowded domestic political news today, the reaction to Taro Aso’s speech to open the Diet session was one of pure, ecstatic excitement among some media outlets (except for the killjoys at the Asahi of course). Just to give you a taste of the ebullience, let me quote the Nikkei:
Let’s hear the Ozawa’s response to Aso’s unconventional speech
Prime Minister Taro Aso gave his first policy speech at a joint session of the Diet. The speech was unconventional — not only did he harshly criticize the DPJ’s actions in the Diet, he questioned the DPJ on issues such as the passage of the fiscal 2008 supplemental budget. The speech took the form of a declaration of war against the DPJ and gave the strong impression that the decisive battle of the next Lower House elecion is near.
It was almost exactly one year ago that former PM Fukuda gave his own first policy speech, in which he took a more relaxed stance as he called for dialogue with the opposition parties to deal with a Diet in which separate parties control each chamber. .Aso’s speech was a shart contrast, and we look forward to hearing DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa’s “response.”
The PM flatly stated that the DPJ’s handling of the last ordinary Diet session “had a consistent attitude of putting politics first and the people’s lives second or third.” He then went further, noting that the DPJ should put forth rules for forming consensus and questioning, “Is the DPJ ready to do that?”
… For the PM himself to use his policy speech to question the opposition parties’ handling of Diet affairs is extremely uncommon.
PM speeches such as the opening policy speech typically take care to mention all the policy initiatives of the various ministries. But Aso eschewed this in favor of a fresher Aso-style address. His determination to take the mantle of administration was clear.
They go on to moan about a lack of specifics and hoped to see them in his party’s election manifesto. They had not a word to say about how his speech was almost totally inappropriate — the point of opening the Diet session like that is so the government can explain itself, not the opposition parties (as the Asahi notes, the tactic may be to try and dissolve the lower house using DPJ intrasigence as an excuse)..
But they have a point. I watched the speech, and when you can hear him over the jeers of the opposition party Aso actually sounds like a human being. The mere fact that he spoke as if there was some life left in him was what made it truly unconventional and no doubt got the media’s attention. It might not save him come election time, but Aso should be proud that he gave one of the best speeches in recent Diet history.