Analysis. Surprises are not a feature of Japanese political life. The coming to power of Yoshihide Suga confirmed this. He formed a cabinet made up half of members of the outgoing government and appointed to the defense Nobuo Kishi, younger brother of his resigned predecessor, Shinzo Abe, who remains his shadow adviser. Political dynasty and gerontocracy (the average age of the cabinet is over 60 years): degagism is not on the agenda.
Faced with two other candidates assuming from the start an announced defeat, Mr. Suga won because he could not lose. So had decided the “baronies” (clans) of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD). This succession in order is less a sign of the maturity of democracy than that of“A serious leadership deficit”, says Yuki Tatsumi of the Stimson Center in Washington.
The political “kitchen” in a vacuum to designate the president of the PLD who, dubbed by Parliament, becomes prime minister is not new. But after nearly eight years of Shinzo Abe’s government, the process of appointing Mr. Suga is symptomatic of the stalling of the democratic process.
The Archipelago, spared the turbulence of populism and the social rifts of Western democracies, is experiencing another flaw, predicted a few years ago by political scientist Gerald Curtis, honorary professor at Columbia University: the shift of the PLD from the position of dominant party to that of “dominating party”, weakening the checks and balances, avoiding responsibilities and promoting collusion.
In power since 1955 with two crossings of the desert (1993-1994 and 2009-2012), the PLD is the guarantor of political stability in the eyes of the Japanese who go to the polls (half of the electorate). Stability by default more than the expression of a clear popular mandate, but which reflects a resignation and explains the support rate of Mr. Suga (65%).
The incompetence shown by the Democratic Party, in power from 2009 to 2012, was a bitter disappointment for supporters of change. And since then, the opposition, disunited and atomized, has been out of the game. As for the PLD, it has lost its internal “democracy”. In the years 1960-1970, faced with strong opposition embodied by the Socialist Party, the majority was agitated by internal debates between personalities with political sensitivities ranging from the right to progressive liberalism. Diminished over the years, this “internal democracy” was stifled following the return to power of Shinzo Abe in 2012 (after a first term that ended in 2006-2007).
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