Let's talk a look at the @CDP2017 manifesto.

First page opens with a big slogan:


Towards a Japan [in which people?] support one another.
In an opening note, Edano says that in the face of the disruption of Covid-19, the emphasis on competition and self-responsibility led to hardship, people who died without proper treatment, businesses left unsupported, people left unsure about housing and food.
As Japan recovers, he wants to "build a society in which no one is left behind." We must change from an era of "only now, only money, only myself" politics.
The rest of the front page is taken up with charts that contrast with the charts Abe used to wave on the campaign trail, charts, showing stagnant real wages relative to Japan's peers, the rise in non-regular workers, Japan's ranks on indices of gender equality and free speech.
The first section naturally is on "protecting lives and livelihoods from Covid-19."

It opens by arguing that the national government cannot leave responsibility for the medical system to local governments, and says the CDP would also bolster testing and border controls.
Proposals include national government role for securing beds, bonuses for healthcare workers treating Covid patients, more spending on healthcare, and more support for community health centers.
-Wants to guarantee access to PCR testing so anyone can receive a test when needed
-Also wants to strengthen border controls, so that all entries (does not distinguish between vaccinated or not, Japanese national or not) must quarantine in gov-provided hotel for at least 10 days.
The CDP's policy bank wants a clearer legal foundation for denying entry to foreigners feared to be carrying pathogens.
(The policy bank is a 165 page document with tiny print, nine pages of which are Covid-19-related proposals.)
Like the LDP, calls for strengthening domestic capacity for manufacturing vaccines and therapeutics.
Economically, the manifesto calls for cash payments and income tax relief for low-income households, as well as an across-the-board temporary consumption tax cut to 5%. Also calls for extending various tax exemptions and payment relief programs introduced in 2020.
Also calls for reorganizing crisis management functions into a crisis management and disaster prevention bureau.
Overall, this isn't *that* different from the thrust of the LDP's manifesto as far as Covid-19 is concerned, except for the bid to outflank the LDP on border controls.
The second section is on economic policy broadly speaking. The CDP is not immune to the tug of nostalgia, calling to "rebuild the 100 million middle class" society, a reference to a slogan from the 1970s. ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%80…
After a brief note on Abenomics -- "the rich got richer, the strong got stronger" -- offers proposals.
-Restates the tax relief and assistance proposed in previous section
-Increase spending on medical care, nursing care, childcare, education
The idea is to raise disposable income by having the state spend more on these services, boosting consumption in turn.
-Also wants stronger legal foundation for equal pay for equal work for non-regulars
-Assistance to SMEs linked to phased increase of minimum wage to JPY 1500/hour
-More support for job matching, training
-Wants the fundamental principle of employment to be "indefinite, full-time, and direct" -- regular employment available to all who want it.
Not unlike the LDP, focuses on countryside-centered growth that's "green, life [health and nursing], and local [ag and tourism]."
Like the LDP, calls for more investment in research capacity of Japanese universities.
In case anyone is wondering how the CDP plans to finance these programs, (1) progressive corporate tax, (2) raise the maximum income tax rate and strengthen financial income taxes, (3) ask wealthy to pay higher monthly social security premiums.
The next section is on energy, "carbon neutral without depending on nuclear power."
Calls for more aggressive emissions cuts by 2030 than the Suga government -- 55% relative to 2013 -- and says it wants to rely on existing renewable technologies to cut emissions instead of overly depending on future innovation.
Opposed to the construction of new nuclear plants (duh). Calls for national government outlays and supervision of decommissioning of existing reactors, financial support for host communities.
Calls for direct national involvement in energy grid development to maximize use of renewables. Wants 50% electricity from renewables by 2030, 100% by 2050.
Wants investment in energy-saving construction methods (insulation, etc.), EV charging stations, decarbonization of the transportation network.
Wants the government back in agricultural regulation substantially, shifting from the Abe government's export-led industrial approach to agriculture to regulations that support "diverse methods."
Would reintroduce DPJ-era compensation system for individual farmers, undo Abe-era reforms to rice price support system.
The fourth section is on education.
-Halve tuition fees for national universities, increase scholarships for private institutions
-Smaller classes sizes for elementary, middle, and high schools
-Calls to end means testing on various programs: child allowances, free high school education, etc.
-Public housing allowance to subsidize rent for low-income households
There were plenty of antecedents for these kinds of programs during the DPJ years, but the CDP is more explicitly embracing a bigger welfare state, i.e. moving away from employment-based functional equivalents of welfare to direct state support.
Perhaps the Scandinavization of Japan, distinct from the LDP's vision. Of course, the next section is the biggest difference of all.
Section 5 is on a society that recognizes diversity
-Moving quickly to allow spouses to have separate surnames
-LGBT equality law + recognition of gay marriage
-Review criminal law regarding sexual violence, assistance for women facing domestic violence
-Gender parity in Diet
-Calls for creating a domestic human rights institution to uproot all forms of discrimination
-Improve immigration and refugee systems, promote multiculturalism
Section 6: "Realistic diplomacy in order to defend peace"
-"Realistic diplomacy and national security" based on the US-Japan alliance but also bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Australia, India, and other Asia-Pacific countries
-While maintaining exclusively defensive defense posture, will defend air, sea, and land and, looking at the Senkakus, will enhance Japan's Coast Guard
-Quick resolution of nuclear, missile, & abductee issues with DPRK (that's what it says, but really not too different from LDP)
-Resolution of territorial disputes with Russia and South Korea based on international law
-Wants a SDG basic law
-Wants Japan involved in nuclear nonproliferation/elimination efforts, observer status for TPNW
-Multilateral diplomacy to protect human rights, development, climate
Regarding the US-Japan alliance, wants the Ginowan project canceled, negotiations begun to comprehensively reconsider the US military presence in Okinawa -- and "while supporting deterrent power" reducing the US military presence in Japan as a whole and revising the SOFA.
You know who else talked about revising the SOFA, at least in the past?
Also includes bullets on economic security and food security. Does not mention China (or Taiwan) explicitly.
Also disappointingly little on how a CDP-led government might approach South Korea.
The last section is on "Honest Politics" and mostly focuses on addresses malfeasance from the Abe years
-calls for review and disclosure of information related to Moritomo and Kake Gakuen scandals
-reducing the power of the cabinet personnel bureau
-repealing the 2015 national security and 2018 conspiracy laws (I was wondering where those proposals would show up)
-repealing legalization of casino gambling
-increasing local autonomy, including over transfers from central government
-allow 20 year olds to run for office
Say what you will about the CDP, but it increasingly is providing a real center-left or social democratic alternative to the LDP. There are places where they overlap, but this manifesto is a vision for a very different society than that offered by the LDP.
Will it matter, particularly in this election? Probably not. I still think the electorate is less interested in policy proposals or visions than in stability, competence, and other valence issues -- and the CDP still has a higher bar to clear on that front than the LDP.
But there are the makings of political competition not just over power but over what kind of society Japan should be.
That said, a CDP-led government elected on this platform would probably run into many of the same problems as the DPJ did, not least with the US.
Washington would likely be even less inclined to entertain negotiations about Okinawa and US bases in Japan more broadly or a revised SOFA than in 2009, to say nothing of what it would think of undoing collective self-defense changes.
Once again, it would be trapped between its promises, an unyielding US, a likely hostile MOFA, all of which could lead public support to fall.
I don't think the CDP has found the answer to how it can pursue a foreign policy that seeks to repair injustices in the bilateral relationship while maintaining the alliance as guarantor of Japan's security -- at least not without significant change in how US views that balance.
Also, it's ironic that after the DPJ made political control of the bureaucracy the very center of its governing program, the CDP's manifesto calls for limiting the power of the cabinet personnel bureau, an incredibly potent weapon for political control.

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More from @observingjapan

13 Oct
The JCP agrees to withdraw its candidates from three districts in Hokkaido -- Hokkaido-3, Hokkaido-4, and Hokkaido-9 -- all three of which look winnable on paper for the CDP. www3.nhk.or.jp/sapporo-news/2…
The JCP has agreed to withdraw 22 candidates in total, and as of now will field only 106 candidates in SMDs, the lowest since electoral reform was introduced. mainichi.jp/articles/20211…
Negotiations are continuing for the remaining 50 or so districts where the two parties are still fielding competing candidates. At this point, every additional seat matters.
Read 4 tweets
13 Oct
The LDP has released its manifesto for the 31 October general election.

🧵My thoughts here.🧵

Initial thought. These blotches of color are a different look than the blocks of red/right angles that characterized LDP manifestos during the Abe years. (Left: 2021; Right: 2017)
I guess a more dovish PM gets the more artistic aesthetic or something.
Read 57 tweets
9 Oct
Here are some of the key takeaways from Kishida's policy speech Friday:

kantei.go.jp/jp/100_kishida… (jp)
(Not sure the provisional English translation is available yet)
1) His New Japanese capitalism is a still a work in progress and I still don't see much difference from Abenomics. He offers 8 (!) pillars divided between a "growth strategy" and "redistribution strategy."
Growth strategy: (1) "realizing science and technology nation," revamping education & boosting investment in advanced technologies; (2) regional revitalization resting on digitalization; (3) economic security; (4) a economic security for 100-year lifespans (working styles, etc.).
Read 24 tweets
8 Oct
In the acknowledgements of THE ICONOCLAST, I made a point of thanking several high school teachers who made a deep impression upon me.

Today I learned that Chris Schwarz, the first name listed, passed away after a battle with cancer.
He was my AP European History teacher, but I first got to know him when he was my freshman baseball coach. I was the nerd who read on the bus to and from games; I think he felt protective of me. Over the next several years, we struck up a rapport.
By the time I was actually became his student as a senior, it was like we were old friends.
Read 7 tweets
8 Oct
This Diamond article (jp) on Abe as a new "shadow shogun" merits close reading. diamond.jp/articles/-/283…
The first two pages (of five) mostly summarize how Abe made Kishida's victory possible, but on page three, @KamikuboMasato, a political scientist at Ritsumeikan, delves into the sources of Abe's power and what's different from, say, Tanaka Kakuei as shadow shogun.
@KamikuboMasato He argues that whereas Tanaka's power rested on factional strength -- rooted in the multi-member districts -- factions don't provide the same source of power.
Read 10 tweets
4 Oct
My profile of Prime Minister Kishida has now been published at @ForeignPolicy.

I really wanted to answer the question of what it even means to be a liberal in the LDP of 2021 and how Kishida has tried to answer that question over the course of his career.
As the Sakurai Yoshiko column I discussed (see thread below) shows, the right wing is skeptical of the party's liberals and will be watching Kishida closely.

Read 5 tweets

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