Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kan he or can't he?

The soap opera of Japanese politics continues to provide mild amusement. The current PM is called Kan (though many people don't know that). A few weeks ago, lots of Important People decided he ought to resign, because, Fukushima. At least, that seems to be the gist of their argument. It's not clear to me how much responsibility he has for the tsunami and nuclear problem, or even if he has dealt with it poorly. The Japanese parliament is split, with Kan's DPJ running the lower house but not having a majority in the upper house. And after decades of LDP rule and the dominance of the long-established bureaucracy (including, but by no means limited to, TEPCO's incompetence and mismanagement), it is hardly credible to think that it could have been turned round in a matter of weeks. But still, Fukushima, so he has to go. Anyway, he's been there a year, so it's someone else's turn.

Rather than meekly stepping down, however, Kan started playing the "time for national unity" card. So a vote of no confidence was arranged. At this point, Kan said that he would resign once the current crisis was over. This persuaded lots of supposed enemies to abstain and the vote failed dismally. At which point Kan said "and of course, this crisis may run and run..." :-) Or words to that effect. The vote having failed, another one cannot be held. So lots of people are wailing impotently that Kan promised to resign in the next week or two, but he's insisting that he will plough on regardless to the end of the summer at least. A week may be a long time in normal politics, but a month is a pretty substantial career here, so the discrepancy is no small beer.

One silver lining: in the interim, the hated Ozawa has actually been suspended from the DPJ as part of a long-running corruption investigation. So if Kan resigns during this interval, it's possible that his influence in the resulting anointment will be moderated.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all the post-Fukushima chaos our lab is trying to renew a major project to run from the end of the current block of funding which ends next March. The national budget and Govt ministries appear to be in complete meltdown and as a result a lot of jobs are at risk. Including ours.


Nick Stokes said...

"The current PM is called Kan (though many people don't know that)."
Idea for election slogan - yes, we're Kan!

Anonymous said...

"Yes we Kan" is better engrish.