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    The magic number

    Now that former Minister of Foreign Affairs Yasuo Fukuda has bowed out, current Minister of Finance Sadakazu Tanigaki has announced his candidacy for LDP president in the election two months from now:

    His campaign platform consists of pledges that his administration will (1) normalize relations with neighboring nations, (2) rebuild strong ties within the [East Asian] regional community, and (3) begin the first stages of fiscal restructuring–his “three resolutions.” Regarding the current state of Japan-PRC and Japan-ROK relations, he criticized Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi’s approach to diplomacy, stating, “Relations are abnormal. It is undeniable that the reason is the Yasukuni Shrine issue.” He also emphasized that “in terms of foreign relations, it is necessary to conduct ourselves in such a way as not to go stirring up domestic politics or nationalist sentiment in foreign countries.” He called for the establishment of an Asia Hotline that heads of state could use at any time to contact one another.

    His fiscal restructuring plan includes a doubling of the consumption tax. Great.

    Shinzo Abe is still, of course, the front-runner, and there have been no indications that his supporters (or the analysts and talking heads who think they’re speaking for them) see Tanigaki as a particular threat. I do realize that Tanigaki was speaking in a specific context and has the specific task of distinguishing himself from Abe in bold strokes, but in terms of policy, I always worry when a politician has a list of ad hoc prescriptions for dealing with hot-button issues but doesn’t bother to articulate the set of principles from which he derived them. (That means I spend a lot of time being worried.) You don’t have to agree with all of Koizumi’s beliefs to appreciate that he has the vision thing in a way the political operators surrounding him do not.

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