The decline in the power of the Liberal Democratic Party is a key reason behind the string of short-lived administrations over the past decade, according to former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.
The successor to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to be selected Thursday will be the 11th prime minister since Noboru Takeshita took the state helm in November 1987 after Nakasone’s five-year reign.
“The style of politics followed by the LDP during the postwar era is now showing signs of metal fatigue,” Nakasone said in a recent interview with The Japan Times.
Nakasone, 82, said his party has been unable to contain the damage after the burst in the last 10 years of what he termed three bubbles — economic, social and political. This can be seen in the continued uncertainty in the financial sector, increasing crime and the incessant corruption within the LDP itself, he observed.
“(To address the lackluster economy,) the government has continuously resorted to makeshift steps, pressured to take immediate measures,” said Nakasone, whose administration was the third-longest in the postwar era.
But this effectively links the administration to economic performance, so when such measures fail, the Cabinet is forced to resign to take responsibility, thus indirectly causing leaders to be expendable, he said.
Nakasone pointed out that the current political situation is similar to that in the late 1930s, which saw six prime ministers in a span of six years.
During that period, in which Japan experienced chaos both economically and socially, the nation embarked on the 1937 Sino-Japanese War, which gradually led to its entry into World War II.
“Although problems plaguing Japan over the last decade are mainly economic, there is a resemblance (between then and now),” the LDP doyen said.
The end of the Cold War has also had a profound effect on Japanese politics, according to Nakasone, who said countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain have experienced a sense of disorientation with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Japan now lacks a strong leader who can offer a clear future vision to the public in the post-Cold War era, he said, adding, “The important thing is to present a medium- to long-term goal so the people will have hope for the future.”
Nakasone, who has been a lawmaker for more than 50 years, lamented that most politicians today are wedded to “individual policies” but lack the ability to have a more comprehensive view.
“The qualities needed in a prime minister are an aspiration to lead the nation and training on political (strategy),” he said.
Another important condition for a prime minister to remain in power is a firm support base, according to Nakasone.
For this, political parties should regroup into two camps — possibly conservative and reformist — at a “suitable timing” after July’s House of Councilors election, he said, without further elaboration.
Such issues as revising the Constitution, national security and educational reform may be yardsticks in drawing lines between political groups, he added.
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