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Cablegate: An Unconventional Ldp Campaign to Win Osaka

VZCZCXRO1088
OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHOK #0014/01 0251022
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251022Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0985
INFO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 8123
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 0213
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 2326
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 0202
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 0225

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OSAKA KOBE 000014

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV JA
SUBJECT: AN UNCONVENTIONAL LDP CAMPAIGN TO WIN OSAKA
GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION

Introduction
------------
1. (SBU) In the Osaka gubernatorial election to be
held on Sunday, January 27, political observers and the
media are unanimous in predicting a win for the LDP
candidate, Toru Hashimoto (38), a lawyer and TV
personality. The LDP, after suffering a string of
defeats last year culminating with the DPJ winning the
key Osaka mayoral election, scrapped its standard
electoral strategy and fielded a young candidate with
strong name recognition rather than a political
pedigree. The opposition DPJ has chosen an older,
decidedly un-telegenic establishment candidate in an
attempt to appear as the more responsible, trustworthy
party.

Wanted: A new style of LDP
--------------------------
2. (U) Hashimoto's brain trust, former Economic
Planning Agency director Taichi Sakaiya, Hashimoto's TV
promoter Shoichiro Ryu, and other popular talent agency
directors, have waged a guerrilla campaign that has
hidden overt signs of LDP and Komeito support in order
to seem more spontaneous and independent. They also
borrowed from TV marketing strategy to limit the
candidate's exposure in a "premium marketing" campaign,
so that each appearance and poster carried more weight.

DPJ: Your father's party
------------------------
3. (U) DPJ Tokyo headquarters also broke with tradition
(over considerable local DPJ chapter opposition) by
forcing DPJ Osaka to select its own candidate instead
of working with the LDP to name a consensus candidate.
The DPJ strategy has been to show the party's closeness
to Sadatoshi Kumagai, a former engineering professor,
by organizing frequent campaign appearances by party
president Ichiro Ozawa, other party leaders, and Rengo
trade union representatives. Ozawa even skipped the
Diet vote on the new Operation Enduring Freedom
refueling law in order to campaign for Kumagai in Osaka.

4. (SBU) The DPJ strategy appeared to be working.
Initially the business community, Komeito, and many
rank-and-file LDP members were either publicly neutral
or opposed to Hashimoto because of his lack of
experience and frequent controversial utterances on TV.
LDP campaign strategy chairman Makoto Koga pressured
the business community to support the LDP candidate,
and they have issued nominal support. Komeito remains
reluctant to get burned again by an overly close
association with unpopular LDP policies and candidates.
Nonetheless, it started to ramp up its support of
Hashimoto.

Negative campaigns: Bad
-----------------------
5. (SBU) Young, unaffiliated voters began to come out
for Hashimoto. Once Hashimoto pulled ahead in weekend
polling, the Kumagai camp turned negative. One
anonymous pampthlet circulated to three million
households highlighted several of Hashimoto's most
controversial public statements, questioning his
fitness for office -- all true, but taboo in Japanese
campaign tactics. Poleconoff witnessed DPJ Dietmember
Takashi Nagayasu making similar comments at a political
fundraiser. The backlash in the blogosphere among
young voters was swift and unforgiving of Kumagai, who
has denied involvement with the pamphlets. Osaka
housewives have started to say that the stiff and
graying Kumagai reminds them of their domineering
husbands, surely the kiss of death in this highly
televised campaign.

6. (SBU) Comment: It is too early to tell whether or
not the LDP can find well-known telegenic candidates
for its other races. However, it is apparent that the
fear of losing yet more elections in major markets like
Osaka (Japan's delegate-rich second city) has motivated
the party to try unconventional measures at masking the
ruling coalition's lack of popularity and maintaining
relevance in local politics. In any case, experts are
doubtful that neophytes like Hashimoto will have any
chance at tackling the pressing issues facing Osaka
Prefecture. Most important will be restructuring
Osaka's public finances, already on the verge of

OSAKA KOBE 00000014 002 OF 002


insolvency. Second, Osaka's new governor will have to
correct the growing regional disparities with Tokyo in
academic ability, domestic and foreign investment
levels, and employment opportunities. End comment.

RUSSEL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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