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    No surprise here: Yasuo Fukuda will be the new LDP president. He’s the same age (71) as his father, Takeo Fukuda, was when he became prime minister. Oddly for such an insider-driven country, he’ll be the first child to succeed a parent to the position. (There are other children of former prime ministers active in politics, of course–Makiko Tanaka springs readily to mind.) My good friend and politics junkie Jun’ichiro commented the other day that Fukuda is a good technocrat but may not be a leader. I can see that. I’d have liked it if we could have had Taro Aso’s foreign policy approach without his power lust and general jerkitude. Unfortunately, you have to take candidates as they are.

    I like confrontation, so Fukuda’s make-nice approach is not one I warm to easily, but I think it may actually work in the LDP’s favor for the next few months. He’s apparently planning to keep most key ministers in the cabinet, so there won’t be another upheaval. And looking outside, the DPJ is open about wanting war (between the ruling and opposition coalitions, I mean), so if Fukuda comes on all friendly, it could make the opposition look petty and mean. Not the best image to have if you want a dissolution of the lower house of the Diet to work in your favor.

    BTW, Will Wilkinson has a long post up about research into the moral dimensions of politics. One of his throwaway examples caught my attention:

    Haidt’s early research on moralized disgust shows that its cultural manifestations vary. The Japanese apparently find it disgusting to fail their station and its duties.

    Well, I don’t know that I would refer to that as a cultural “manifestation” of disgust, exactly. I think it’s more accurate to say that the Japanese are acculturated in such a way as to attach reflexive, visceral disgust to dereliction of duty. Doing what you’re told…being what you’re told…is drilled into people to the point that it becomes second nature, so they tend to flinch with child-like “that’s yucky!” horror when someone harshes the wa. (Many foreigners are driven bonkers by the Japanese tendency, when asked to do something that doesn’t follow the usual rules, to grimace, pull the chin inward, and suck in the breath as if confronted with a slug in the salad.) From that vantage point, it’s interesting to think about how the commentators reacted to Prime Minister Abe’s sudden resignation. Faces registered shock but also revulsion. Of course, that’s just my interpretation based on what I happened to see on television. But I really don’t think I’m projecting.

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