Well, that was fast.
In my post of yesterday, I was puzzled what Nakatsugawa Hirosato, a Tokyo Bloc proportional seat representative of the Democratic Party of Japan could be doing quitting the party to serve as an independent.
It turns out the answer depended on what one believes "independent" means.
If by independent one thinks "serving in the Diet without attachment to any party" then Nakatsugawa's resignation yesterday made no sense.
If, however, by independent one means "a label to paste upon oneself until the party one hopes to join organizes itself" then a proportional seat member throwing himself off the DPJ party list before the party got around to throwing him off itself makes complete sense.
As it turns out, Nakatsugawa seems to be the missing piece in the plans of Kiuchi Takatane, the first man out the door in the buildup to the passage of the consumption tax bill. Kiuchi, the Tokyo District #9 seatholder and a former Merrill Lynch partner, is The Big Money behind a new parliamentary caucus in the House of Representatives, just as Tanioka Kuniko is The Big Money behind the new Green Wind (Midori no kaze) caucus in the House of Councillors.
Kiuchi, it turns out, is further along in the process of building a party around himself than Tanioka. Nakatsugawa, if and when his resignation from the DPJ is accepted, would become the fifth member of the Kiuchi's new caucus, currently slated to be called "the Association of Reform Independents" (Kaikaku mushozokukai) (J). With five members the caucus could be converted into a formal party, eligible for public campaign funding and other goodies.
The caucus, which is to be launched today without Nakatsugawa's participation, is composed of Kiuchi, a North Kanto proportional seat holder, a South Kanto proportional seat holder (Nakatsugawa, if and when he joins, would complete a Kanto Plain trifecta) and Sato Yuko, a Nagoya District seat holder and former political secretary to current Nagoya City mayor and major loon Kawamura Takashi.
So on successive days the DPJ has seen defections tied to monied former members, both of whom were recruited by Ozawa Ichiro, each establishing proto-parties linked to neither the DPJ, the LDP nor Ozawa Ichiro's Livelihood Party.
It is impossible to tell how far either Kiuchi's or Tanioka's caucuses can go. Neither Tanioka's liberal (don't tax but spend) or Kiuchi's neo-liberal (don't tax and don't spend, indeed, cut) ideologies electrify the electorate. Tanioka is an irrepressible talker, so will have no problem in promoting Green Wind and keeping it in the public eye. Kiuchi's communication skills are so far unknown. Kiuchi's focus so far on the Kanto Plain area, where Watanabe Yoshimi's Your Party has its base (and indeed, featuring a political philosophy which is nearly indistinguishable from Watanabe's), and Tanioka's only having women in her caucus are hurdles both incipient leaders will have to overcome before either caucus can become a significant new forces in politics, both which in their essences seem to be competing flavors of Ozawaism-without-Ozawa.
* In my post yesterday about the Green Wind, I did not acknowledge the association of Green Wind with Die Grünen and other Green parties in Europe. While the association is there, particularly in Green Wind's anti-nuclear stance, the connection of green with wind in a caucus of the House of Councillors is the stronger precedent. The House of Councillors has had the Furyokukai ("Wind-Green-Association") and then the Shinfuryokukai ("New-Wind-Green-Association"). The latter association formed a joint caucus with the DPJ only to be absorbed into it, leaving only the name of the caucus -- The Democratic Party Of Japan and New Wind Green Association Caucus -- as a reminder of the Shinfuryokai's existence.
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