Lighting a Fuse; with His Party in Turmoil, Junichiro Koizumi Sets the Stage for an Epic Election That Could Transform the Ruling LDP
Byline: Christian Caryl (With Hideko Takayama and Kay Itoi)
In the end it all came down to a moment of near absurdity between two of the most powerful men in Japan. On the evening of Aug. 6, Yoshiro Mori, a senior parliamentary leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, sweating in the muggy summer heat, arrived for a parley at the residence of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The two men had urgent business to discuss--namely, whether the upper house of Parliament, the Diet, would pass crucial legislation approving the privatization of Japan Post, the vast public corporation whose reform Koizumi has declared the make-or-break issue of his government.
Mori, a former prime minister himself, was bringing bad news. The votes weren't there, he explained, and he pleaded with Koizumi to back away from his threat to call a snap election if the privatization bills failed to pass. But Koizumi held his ground. If the legislators couldn't make it happen, he said, he had no choice but to place the issue before the voters. "You are more than a weirdo!" Mori exclaimed. "That's me and I can't help it," Koizumi replied. Afterward Mori complained to the press that the bachelor prime minister had made the barest show of hospitality during their meeting--"canned beer, shriveled cheese and salmon."
Take it or leave it: that was Koizumi's message to the "forces of resistance," his label for the party conservatives who, as predicted, proceeded to scuttle his plans for restructuring Japan Post--a move experts assert would help revitalize the country's economy over the long term. Two days after his chat with Mori, upper-house legislators scotched the bills by a vote of 125 to 108. Those voting against included 22 members of Koizumi's own party, including several former cabinet ministers. Afterward Koizumi dissolved the lower house, paving the way for what will be a watershed election on Sept. 11. A lot more is at stake than the fate of …
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Publication information: Article title: Lighting a Fuse; with His Party in Turmoil, Junichiro Koizumi Sets the Stage for an Epic Election That Could Transform the Ruling LDP. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: Newsweek International. Publication date: August 22, 2005. Page number: 30. © 2009 Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reuse, distribution or alteration without express written permission of Newsweek is prohibited. For permission: www.newsweek.com. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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