Friday, October 20, 2017

Tracking Koike's ambition 16

Tracking Koike's ambition, Day 16, 16 October 2017

Koike is continuing her (comprehensive) run around the country and has taken to uploading a short commentary on her day on various social media platforms. Koike exudes resilience and gumption in what is turning into a bit of a less than 'hopeful' campaign.

Todays Asahi paper highlights the the 'kanban speakers', poster politicians perhaps, the son of former PM Koizumi and a leading young parliamentarian in his own right for the LDP, Koike as the drawcard for Kibo (as I have witnessed on the hustings) and Renho for the Democrats which gives us a chance to talk about Renho, the former leader, who is supporting colleagues in Kibo, RikkenDs and Independents but who herself remains in Minshinto in the upper house. 

So this is a little bit complicated. In their haste to run on the promise of Kibo, or run as independents or reform as the new RikkenDs, the lower house parliamentary wing appeared to have left their upper house brothers and sisters in their wake. The upper house parliamentary wing hasn't, at the time of writing, dissolved and become part of the Kibo-Rikken-indy split. There are 49 Minshinto Councillors, Renho is one of 12 women in the upper house group.

As a result, Renho, who has always been a good campaigner, has been out and about supporting a number of lower house colleagues regardless of where they affiliated--Kibo, RikkenDs or independent. For her, it was a case of supporting colleagues first and foremost. Today, on the husting in Yokohama with Edano, she was critical of Maehara and his (failed) plan to take Minshinto members across to Kibo ( 16 October 2017). (There is the matter of who owns/controls the party funds but that shall be for another post-election discussion.)

As with most new party leaders, Renho arrived at the post with much expectation. First elected in 2004 (I have been following her career closely too), she came to politics via a career as a model and tv appearances. Born in Tokyo in 1967 to a Japanese mother and a Taiwanese father she went to university and spent some time studying in Beijing. She has been a stand out in the various iterations of the Democrats over the years and it was only a matter of time before she became leader.

Unfortunately for Renho, the so-called 'birther' movement which emerged in the US during President Obama's term in office came to affect her role with constant questions asked about her citizenship status (similar to the s. 44 issues in Australia recently) only it is neither a constitutional nor legislative issue. For Renho too, like most children born into similar situations, Japanese citizenship was only recognised if the father was Japanese. The laws were changed in 1984 but a cloud remained around her status. That distraction and a poor showing in the Tokyo Metropolitan elections (the same election Koike's new political grouping smashed allcomers, which in turn, spurred the hurried entry into this current election) saw her take responsibility and tender her resignation, under a year into her term.

She was eventually replaced by Maehara in a run off for the leadership and the rest, they say, is history. Although Renho personally sat over towards the LDP on some key political issues, (see for example, the Asahi/Todai joint survey research) I doubt she would have taken Maehara's approach had she remained leader but such are the fun of couter-factuals...

Renho secured her Tokyo electorate in a strong showing during last year's upper house election and is likely to stay in politics for the near future. She would be a loss if she left. The upper house Dems will need her experience to see them through their next stage, post-election, and what is to become of them.