When the Lower House of the Diet passed the antiterror special measures law on Jan. 11, it became clear that the Democratic Party of Japan is not in control of the political situation. After briefly setting the agenda in the aftermath of the July 29 Upper House election by opposing the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean, the DPJ finds itself pressured by both the Fukuda government and other opposition parties.

Since winning in July, the DPJ has faced an insoluble dilemma: Is it purely an opposition party, or does its primacy in the Upper House make it responsible for legislative outcomes?

DPJ President Ozawa Ichiro has exacerbated this tension by swinging from one extreme to the other, first opposing the Liberal Democratic Party vigorously, brooking no talk of compromise, then meeting with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda behind closed doors to discuss a grand coalition with the LDP, to the horror of his own party.