September 16, 2009 — June 2, 2010
On the morning of Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced that he would be resigning. With him, DPJ Diet member and political architect Ichiro Ozawa will also be stepping down admidst scandal and an ongoing criminal investigation. A new prime minister should be named within the week and elections will go on as scheduled in July.
The political climate is going to change somehow. Tabula rasa? I’m not so optimistic. Bellum omnium contra omnes. The two most vocal parties in Japanese politics right now command [between the two of them] well less than 5% of the vote. The DPJ is broken, and the LDP doesn’t seem situated to make a comeback just yet. Let chaos reign.
Japan’s turnover rate for prime ministers is ludicrous. Since I was born, there have been four individual presidents of the United States. In that same time, there have been 13 prime ministers in Japan to date. Under the current circumstances, I’ve realized an alarming and somewhat interesting possibility: if a new prime minister is named and that individual does not survive the elections in July, I will have witnessed four seperate administrations during my one year in Japan.
Since the end of the war, there have been 30 individuals to hold office. That makes the average term 2.16 years, which is pretty short. But the average is off because of 5 or so gents who made it around 5 years. So let’s look at the rest — 25 PMs in 40 years. We’re down to about 18 months apiece. Prime Minister Tanzan Ishibashi held office for two months and two days. He got a case of the sniffles, resigned and then lived healthily for another 17 years. But then, penicillin doesn’t work on public servants.
Hatoyama has lasted nearly 9 months…about half as long as we could have expected. But he’s significant to me, and I’ll always remember him as Japan’s PM from when I was here. For the Japanese people, he’ll be remembered as the man who tried to give Japan her democracy back…and then flaked. Oh well, here’s to you, Yukio. Hope you’ve got a nice vacation planned.