Before leaving his post as the most popular leader of the de facto single party government that ruled ever since the end of Second World War, he did the unthinkable. He drove party members in to rebellions, stir up internal competition, effectively handed its biggest opposition party the next governing power, ending 50 years of single party rule and establish two party rule.
Almost like déjà vu, it’s happening over again this time in Japan. After failing to pass postal reform bill in the upper house, which would have effectively diminish Liberal Democratic Party’s capacity to continue port-barrel politics. Prime minister Koizumi Junichirou (小泉純一郎) dissolves the lower house and called a snap election that could possibly lead LDP to its destruction.
No matter how voters vote on the 11th of September, Koizumi’s legacy is secured. If LDP cannot secure enough votes to stay in government, its biggest opposition Democratic Party of Japan will be put into power. DPJ is likely to continue reform, not only because they have never rule out future privatization of the Japan Post, they are for it’s downsizing (they properly just vote down the privatization bill for tactical reason) but also because unlike LDP their constituency are urban based, therefore DPJ is can push for reforms that rurally supported LDP could not. Such as liberalization of agriculture industry and dismantling government structure that unfairly favor rural voters. DPJ will also be able learn governance by doing and eventually prove it self as a competent alternative to LDP.
On the other hand if LDP manage to retain power, it wont be the old LDP but a new LDP invigorated with new blood lawmakers, and possibly with changed constituency composition and a clear reform mandate to follow through Japan Post privatization and other agendas.
The lasting legacy of Koizumi will hopefully be the discontinuation of half a century’s worth of LDP centered institution many observer attribute to Japan’s in ability to truly reform and bring an end to one and half decade of marginal economic performance.
In the short-term, reform may lead to higher unemployment, chaotic political scene However in the long run reform will likely lead to better economic performance, competitive politics and a confident Japan that the whole world has being waiting for.
Lee Teng-Hui would be proud.
A critical view on Koizumi’s electioneeringWith Koizumi at the Theatre