In the game of shogi, taking too long to mull a move is said to result in a bad one. In other words, a smart move is not necessarily the result of lengthy calculation.
"Discard unnecessary information, don't overthink," advises shogi master Yoshiharu Habu. With experience, one comes to know how to declutter one's mind.
"Let's say you have two moves in mind," Habu continues. "After mulling them for an hour or two, you begin to see a third option. This could be the right move, but I believe it usually isn't."
In Japanese politics, people are beginning to favor a "third option," a new alternative to the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the leading opposition Liberal Democratic Party.
The two major parties are in effective accord on dissolving the Lower House in the near future. This would trigger a snap election, probably this autumn.
Now the regional Osaka Ishin no Kai group is entering national politics as a formal political party. It is capitalizing on the popularity of its leader, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, to recruit candidates for the Lower House.
To field candidates simultaneously in both single-seat and proportional-representation districts, as a fully fledged party, Ishin no Kai needs at least five incumbent lawmakers on its roster.
About 20 Diet members have reportedly expressed interest in joining. These are members whose chances of re-election are iffy; they are ready to jump their sinking ships, both large and small, to clamber aboard the buoyant new party.
But Hashimoto apparently is more interested in heavy-hitters who have held positions of real power--such as former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Hashimoto seems to be seeking allies who are conservative and believe in small, decentralized government and top-down management.
For now, the public must assess carefully the new party's campaign platform and vision for our country.
Like in quick shogi, Japanese voters have acted on intuition for two decades: they vote for Party B because they didn't like Party A, and then they give Party C a try because Party B proved a disappointment.
But it is time to think long and hard, and this goes for the media as well. If the next move turns out to be bad, it's checkmate for our country.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 18
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