Ichirō Ozawa - Policy and Criticism

Policy and Criticism

Formerly known as a conservative politician in the LDP, he now takes liberal stances on domestic and international policies. The wide political spectrum in the Democratic Party forced Ozawa to take eclectic approaches, which has become a main source for criticism against him.

Aside from his policies, he is also criticised for his aggressive power game tendencies in the reorganisation of Japanese political parties in the 1990s. Some critics accuse him of being an opportunist, and point to his repeated party movements. His defenders say that in the relatively ideology-free landscape of Japanese politics, it is his adherence to principle that forces him into conflict with others.

In 2004, Ozawa was affected by a pension scandal. Although cleared of any legal wrongdoing, he stepped down from the DPJ leadership elections, in which he had been unopposed. This forced Katsuya Okada to assume leadership of the party. Okada resigned after his party suffered dramatic losses in the September 2005 general election, and his successor Seiji Maehara resigned in April 2006. Ozawa was elected president again on 7 April.

The Economist called Ozawa an "increasingly ineffectual bully" in July 2007 and partially blamed him both for enervating reformists in his own party and for DPJ failure to profit from LDP predicaments.

In August 2007, Ozawa said that the War in Afghanistan was an American fight that "had nothing to do with the United Nations or the international community."

Ozawa published an article in the leftist monthly political magazine Sekai in October 2007, stating his intention to deploy the Japan Self-Defense Forces as part of the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghanistan if he ever assumes power in the new cabinet. The article was published as a rebuttal to a UN political officer who criticised Ozawa's position to oppose Japan's continual support of the maritime interdiction forces in the Indian Ocean.

The article was published with an intention to provide a viable alternative to the government's plan to continue stationing the Maritime Defense Forces for logistical support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. However, faced with mounting criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, Ozawa later softened his statement and explained that his intent was to deploy the GSDF (Ground Self-Defense Forces) for logistical support of the civilian component of ISAF, presumably suggesting the PRT or Provincial Reconstruction Team which is a civil-military cooperation unit that works on reconstruction efforts in the provincial areas of Afghanistan.

On 24 February 2008, he stated that only the United States Seventh Fleet should be based in Japan. His remarks drew criticism from members of both the LDP and DPJ.

In November 2009, while visiting the president of the Japan Buddhist Federation, Ozawa declared that Christianity is an "exclusive and self-righteous religion" and that "European and U.S. societies with a background of Christianity are bogged down". He also stated that Islam "is better than Christianity but it is also exclusive."

In August 2010, Ozawa expressed admiration for American democracy and praised Americans for electing Barack Obama as President, but he also labeled Americans as "monocellular" and "simple-minded". In the same speech, Ozawa said, "I don't like British people."

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