Tuesday, August 09 2005 @ 06:48 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

On August 8 the "Postal Reform Bills" were pronounced dead at the House of Councilors by the oppositions led by the Democratic Party of Japan and dissidents within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who crossed the floor to vote against them. The triplet bills were four years old. (Some say they were almost thirteen years old since these inviable things first cropped up in their father's brain.)

The cause of the deaths is yet to be known for sure because the mainstream media have not issued the death certificates as yet.

But you don't need official certificates to know that they died just because they were so inviable as to be likened to phantoms.

The deaths are also attributable to the fact that this time the group of people with vested interest in the Japan Post, including its 270,000-plus employees, were, and still remain, fighting against another group of pork-barrel operators who have their vested interests somewhere else.

Their father, Koizumi, got so upset over their deaths that he insisted his children can still be resuscitated. That's why toward the evening, he went through the due formality to get the Emperor to rubber-stamp on the decision taken at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting to dissolve the House of Representatives, instead of the upper house, based on Article 7 of the Constitution.

Fortunately for him, his Cabinet members are all sycophants except Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshinobu Shimamura who was dismissed immediately after the Cabinet meeting.

Shimamura reportedly refused to sign the application for the Imperial seal on the grounds that it was not really advisable to create a "political vacuum" by dissolving the Diet at this moment. But wasting no time, Koizumi appointed himself to replace the Agriculture Minister on a concurrent basis.

I, too, must have given him a pink slip because I could live without him, or even would be better off without him. Anybody without special expertise could deal with American cattle who might have been infected with mad-cow disease.

The same holds true with any other minister who just sits around at the top of his already-overpopulated ministry. Most recently Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura proved totally useless in dealing with his counterparts in the U.S., China, or even North Korea. (See "AN OBITUARY" dated August 7.)

Later in the evening the "imperial edict" was delivered in a purple wrapping cloth, or furoshiki, to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda from the Imperial Household Agency which he received with a reverent bow and passed on to Lower House Speaker Yohei Kono, taking another deep bow.

Kono received the furoshiki-wrapped edict from Fukuda returning a solemn bow to Hosoda, or the Furoshiki, turned around to face the Diet members, slowly unwrapped the edict and bowed again before reading it out.

In response, all the Diet members of both camps got to their feet to shout out, "Banzai," three times with their arms held up high in the air. Banzai literally means "Long live (the Emperor)."

The Banzai cry is always reminiscent of the last days of the Pacific War, six decades ago, when tens of thousands of Japanese people, in despair, killed themselves and their family members in Okinawa and other South Pacific islands. Their last words were always, "Tenno heika banzai." Banzai is a very useful multi-purpose word that fits well into any upbeat or downbeat situation.

That's how the lower house was dissolved for a snap general election to take place on September 11.

It's true we are seeing something not really precedented.

But judging from the fact that the politicians of the LDPs (i.e., a "new LDP" led by Koizumi and an "authentic LDP" headed by the bosses of the dissidents,) the DPJ, and other small guys, as well as the mainstream media have all been playing the same old tune even after the furoshiki-unwrapping ceremony overnight.

For instance the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Daily Yomiuri editorialized the dissolution this morning. The only clear message they wanted to convey in the pointless, and yet lengthy, editorial was that as outgoing Shimamura insisted, now is not the right time to create a "political vacuum." Some readers may have wondered: "Is the vacuum not the normalcy, then, in this country?"

In fact, we saw a similar situation in the first half of the 1990s when the eternal reign of the LDP was briefly interrupted by some motley and short-lived coalition administrations, such as the one led by an obscure Hosokawa-something (August 1993 through April 1994.)

During that "turbulent" period we saw too many mergers, splitups, renamings, as well as party-hoppings back and forth, to memorize as you can see in the chart embedded at the top of this piece.

No matter how the political landscape now looks somewhat different on the surface, it's nothing more than a hiccup which the 1955 System becomes prone to at a certain interval.

Unfortunately for Junichiro Koizumi, it's far from enough to risk his life to shift the same problem from the public sector to the private sector because it will take much more than that to really transform the entire System - the system under which debts incurred by both central and local governments are about to exceed US$ 10 trillion now.

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