Columbia University's Gerald Curtis recently wrote, "It is a sad commentary on Japan's politics that after nearly 70 years of democracy a competitive party system has all but disintegrated."

The Democratic Party of Japan is a culprit in this disintegration and slim hopes for a turnaround were dashed by last week's party leadership contest — a PR disaster that exposed deep divisions and offered no vision for how a party that has fallen so far so quickly can manage a comeback. Things looked bleak during the campaign when Katsuya Okada, the winning candidate, sported an eye-patch, reminding me of the old saying of how a one-eyed man is king in the land of the blind.

Following disastrous setbacks in the 2010 and 2012 Diet elections, and a mediocre performance in last month's snap poll, the DPJ has been left staring into the abyss. It's a party looking for an identity, with its members at odds over policy and representing a wide swath of the ideological spectrum from left to right. Thus hammering out a unified position on any issue has been difficult, making the party look about as dynamic as a stick in the mud. Okada is an experienced leader and policy wonk, but it stretches the imagination to think he can rejuvenate the party.