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  • Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.

    Posted by arudou debito on October 28th, 2012

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    Hi Blog.  Something very important happened a few days ago when Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro made a surprise announcement that he would resign his governorship, launch a new political party, and run for a Diet seat in the next Lower House election due in two months.

    I say bring it on.  This xenophobic old bigot (now 80) has fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book:  self-delusion, brought on by decades of megalomania and ideological sound-chambering within a cadre of sycophants — which Alberto Fujimori (an old friend of Ishihara and his elite ruling circles) similary fell for when the self-deluded demagogue buggered off back to Chile (forfeiting his unextradictable safe haven in Japan) to stand for reelection in Peru.  Fujimori, as you know, was then extradited to Peru for trial and is now doing essentially life in prison.  But I digress.

    I say bring it on for two reasons.  One is that even if elected (which he will be, under Japan’s Proportional Representation system — the main avenue for celebrity schmoes to pad their resume and stroke their egos), Ishihara can do less damage as a Dietmember of a fringe party (analysts already are beginning to doubt the strength of the Rightist alliance between other fringe parties) than as Governor of Tokyo, with an entire Metropolitan Police Force (the strongest and most influential in all of Japan) at his disposal to target people he doesn’t like.  One of the reasons he says he resigned his Diet seat in 1995 after 25 years in office is because of his frustration with the powerlessness of the Diet in the face of the pervasive Japanese bureaucracy (which, as he correctly claims, rules the country).  Now he’s going right back to that same Diet, and I think he thinks he’ll stop at nothing short of becoming PM (He won’t.  He won’t live long enough.  Osaka Mayor Hashimoto is the bigger threat at half the age.)

    The other reason is because it’s time to put some cards on the table.  The Center-Left in Japan (in the form of the DPJ) tried their liberalizations (with NJ PR local suffrage, etc.) and lost badly due to the hue and cry over how NJ, if given any power in Japan, would automatically abuse it and destroy Japan).  The image in Japanese politics nowadays is of a rightward swing.  Alright, let’s see just how rightward.  Japan’s bureaucrats like things just the way they are (their sole purpose is to keep the status quo as is, even if that means Japan irradiates itself and strangles itself to death demographically).  It would take a miracle (something I think not even Ishihara is capable of) to dismantle that system.  If Ishihara wins, Japan’s rightward swing is conclusive, and the world will have to stop ignoring a resurgent militarist xenophobic Japan.  If Ishihara loses, that will take a lot of wind out of Rightist sails and push the country back towards centrism.

    In this poker game, I believe Ishihara will lose.  And NJ in Japan have already won a victory by having that bigot abdicate his throne/bully pulpit as leader of one of the world’s largest cities.

    The clock is ticking, Ishihara.  How much more time you got?  Do your thing and then shuffle this mortal coil.  Arudou Debito

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012
    Ishihara to resign, form new political party
    Outspoken nationalist says he wants to take his case countrywide
    By MIZUHO AOKI Staff writer

    In a surprise move, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced Thursday he will resign and return to the national arena by launching a new political party that can battle the Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party in the next Lower House election.

    Later in the day, Ishihara submitted his letter of resignation to the chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, in effect giving 30 days’ notice. However, he can leave office earlier if the assembly gives its approval. The election to replace him will be held no more than 55 days from Thursday.

    The 80-year-old former author said he would launch the party with Diet members later in the evening, and he plans to run in the next Lower House election on the proportional representation segment of the ballot.

    Ishihara said he will be the leader of the new party, which is expected to include members of Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan). He said at least five Diet members, the minimum required to be recognized as a national political party under election laws, will join up with him.

    How much influence the party will have on the national level remains to be seen.

    Ishihara was once regarded as a key player in a possible realignment of existing political parties, but public attention shifted to Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) led by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who has gained popularity among voters frustrated with the DPJ and LDP.

    Ishihara said he wants to cooperate with Nippon Ishin no Kai but didn’t elaborate.

    Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121026a1.html

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    The Japan Times, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012
    ANALYSIS
    Ishihara-Hashimoto tieup seen as difficult
    Hawkish allies share nationalist bent but differ on nuclear future
    By ERIC JOHNSTON and NATSUKO FUKUE, Staff writers

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s announcement Thursday that he is resigning to form a new national party marks the first step in his final major political push.

    But one of Ishihara’s key assumptions, that his new party will team up with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), remains problematic due to unresolved differences, especially on the future of nuclear power.

    Ishihara, 80, and Hashimoto are close personally and have long hoped to form a third political force able to challenge the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party. But political experts say the influence Ishihara’s envisioned party would wield in Nagata-cho could be far more limited.

    Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121027a1.html

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    Japan Times Editorial of October 28, 2012 on this issue here.

    ENDS

    35 Responses to “Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.”

    1. TJ Says:

      On last night’s NHK news report, a number of people were interviewed on the street saying how sad they were that he resigned…which albeit unscientific, may indicate he still has a huge public backing. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out over the next several months. He has something up his sleeve…that is for sure.

    2. Jim Di Griz Says:

      I agree with you Debito. Go for it Ishihara! do your best (worst?)!
      Let’s see how much support he really has now the gloves are off.
      If he is a winner (in any form), then the whole ‘victim culture’ of Japan will be seen as the house of cards that it is, and we can leave a country that was never ‘sorry’ and will be seeking to legitimize hate against us.
      However, if he fails it will mark a major milestone in the disenfrachisement of the extreme right, and revisionist politicians, opening the way for a more grown up political agenda.

    3. Bob Says:

      Is he not grooming his own, useless son to take over as Tokyo Governor?

    4. Flyjin Says:

      Thank God he has resigned, he was never going to be elected out so he did us all a favor in a way. Maybe life in Tokyo will improve now. Might be worth living there again. And this will hopefully improve Japan/China international relations.

      He belongs on the fringe, so this has worked out nicely. Now without the veneer of respectability he had by being mayor, he can be clearly seen for what he is; a right wing loony.

      But I am concerned about one thing; can he renounce his resignation and be mayor again, or is it now unretractable?

    5. catoneinutica Says:

      He quit the mayoral post as abruptly as he quit the Diet in 1995. In the case of the latter, there were rumors that he had been helping to promote the expansion of a certain Japanese religious cult in Russia and that he feared questioning about this help after the cult achieved a certain, uh, notoriety in that year. As for last week’s resignation, I haven’t read any rumors, but it’s impossible not to suspect that he jumped before he was pushed. Certainly keidanren, and by extension the better part of Jiminto, can’t be too happy with him. Or perhaps there were more revelations about Shinginko to come. Or both.

      Well, karma will out in the fullness of time. Having a democratically-elected Karl Luger-style fascist as Mayor of Tokyo was bound to create an intense amount of awkwardness over time.

    6. Flyjin Says:

      As an ironic riposte to Ishihara, may I just say as a “Gaijin so our opinion does not matter” (Tokyo Governor and His Shocking Response to a Question Regarding the 2016 Tokyo Olympic Bid, YouTube, July 7, 2009, retrieved April 15, 2012) that he has made the right move in resigning and making Tokyo a better place! (^-^)

      Possible conspiracy theory- maybe he was pressured to step down by the CIA and this is is his Tatemae?

      He sure did blink a lot while giving the resignation speech.(Hood)winking?

    7. Charuzu Says:

      It will be interesting, and — as you say — will be helpful in that having him join the Diet will effectively strip him of powers and render him another impotent J Diet member.

    8. Mike Says:

      Ishihara is still very popular amoungst Japanese people, and he is very crafty. Noda gave him a verbal spanking so perhaps he is seeking revenge, could be one of the reasons, since Japanese put so much emphasis on seniority and age. The manifesto he wrote that I heard about is quite scary, giving the yen the same status as the euro in Asia and boosting power to the emperor and all US miliatry out of Japan by 2045. 2045 I guess was chosen as 100 years since 1945, or to launch something, who knows, but Im sure thats not an arbritrary number pulled out of the air. You know Hitler came to power in similar circumstances, riding the wave of disillusion. Ishihara is a very crafty guy and surely he is going to cause much trouble in the near future. How anybody could want to go back to the old days of facism in Japan when the rest of the world is progressing is beyond me. All of this about striping him of powers or reducing his influence in the diet, is missing the mark. Ishihara will be forming alliances and collaborations, Im guessing causing a faction that results in a shift in power and support to the right, similar to what Hitler did.

    9. Baudriillard Says:

      But Debito-horrible thought-what if his party linked up with the LDP using the family connection with his son? It checks all the J political boxes:
      1.Nepotism? Yes
      2. Corrupt, anti-democratic? Yes
      3. Warped J Confucianism of the old fogie calling the shots on his younger relation? Yes
      4. LDP back in power as the “natural” party of Govt with a reactionary/kimochii warui minor coalition member? Yes, and hell yes, considering even the DPJ have a small, reactionary right wing party in their coalition derailing votes for NJs.It seems every J govt should have one.

      5. Decrepit old man calling the shots in his 80s after retiring from all govt posts, a la Deng Xiaoping. Yes, oh wait thats China. Different authoritarian state, sorry.

    10. john k Says:

      Be fun to watch him trading blows for who is the most “nationalistic” with Ozawa :)

    11. Man in Holland Says:

      “If Ishihara wins, Japan’s rightward swing is conclusive, and the world will have to stop ignoring a resurgent militarist xenophobic Japan. If Ishihara loses, that will take a lot of wind out of Rightist sails and push the country back towards centrism.”

      I’d rather like your opinion on what “winning” means. Ishihara will be back in the Diet. But Hiranuma Takeo, one of Ishihara’s key allies has been at the head of his own party for a while now and has pretty much been ignored, even by his former LDP colleagues. I’m not sure that Ishihara won’t really be more of the same.

      Anyway, for my money, Shinzo Abe is far more the player to watch out for, and his proposals for changing the system of government in Japan starting with the constitution and continuing with his education reforms are of somewhat more concern, particularly because they are couched in a caustic nationalism based on the same insecurities and dissatisfaction about Japan’s postwar development that Ishihara represents. Nevertheless, there’s probably little hope for a sustainable coalition between the LDP and Ishihara’s party because of differences over Japan’s relationship with the United States.

      Not that I think any of this signals a rise in Japanese nationalism, of course. We’ve seen leaders like Abe (e.g. Nakasone) blocked and forced to back down over national security and history issues, and Abe himself moderated his stance while in office.

    12. Eric C Says:

      I side with Debito on this: It’s a good thing to have Ishihara in the Diet. However, I don’t believe he can do much mischief there. Let me start with a good quote from Karel van Wolferen: “Japan lacks a center of political accountability, a core to the state, a coordinating pinnacle to its power pyramid. It does not have a functioning government equipped to deal with unanticipated crises created by external factors, or capable of wisely deciding on strategy as an independent entity. Washington obviously cannot be blamed for this defect; it was already a problem when in December 1941 the Japanese navy bombed Pearl Harbor. As the war it thereby initiated forced it to fight against an industrial base roughly ten times bigger than its own, this was not a move made by a thinking central government.” (full article here: http://www.karelvanwolferen.com/the-disabling-pacific-alliance/ ).

      The fact is, the Diet is a largely symbolic body. Although the actual operations of Japan’s government are still laughably obscure and ferreting out the “legal” basis for it is incredibly difficult, most scholars agree that the ministries hold most of the actual power in Japan, especially if you believe that how to apportion government spending is the fundamental act of government. From my research, it appears that up to 90% of laws in Japan are created by the ministries and it is the ministries that decide on the annual budget, which is merely rubber stamped by the Diet. For those who doubt the power of the ministries, I’d recommend they look closely at how they defanged the DJP soon after they took power (recall how the DJP talked big about cutting down on wasteful public works spending etc and how quickly the ministries put the kibosh on that).

      So, really, what does the addition of one right-wing geezer to the Diet mean? Very little. Even if he recruits lots of others to his party and forges an alliance with the LDP (which is filled with like-minded geezers), what’s he going to do? I have no idea how easily the members of the Diet can effect a constitutional amendment, but nothing less would be required to fundamentally change Japan, and even then, I wouldn’t doubt that the ministries could still somehow hobble any real power play by an activist Diet. So, for me, the real question is: Where does Ishihara stand on domestic issues and would he attempt to cut down the power of the ministries? My guess is that he wouldn’t take them on, so they would acquiesce to his shenanigans (and, again, since the ministries are filled with elderly geezers, it’s a fair guess that most of them support him). But, again, it seems very unlikely that one Diet member can do much to change Japan (see van Wolferen’s comment above).

      In short, it’s a fiction that the Diet has control over Japan. I believe that van Wolferen is correct: No one has power over Japan (although if you read the article the quote is drawn from, you might conclude that only America has power over Japan).

      All that said, it’s worth pointing out that fascist old gits like Ishihara represent the thinking of an increasing number of Japanese. It’s an incredibly sad thing that the leaders of Japan’s three biggest cities are dyed-in-the-wool right-wing nationalists. In fact, when I imagine Japan as a person, sadly, the image that comes to mind is usually an old man a lot like Ishihara. I mean, look at the characteristics of the place: conservative, xenophobic, proud, ignorant, bloody minded, sexist etc. Of course, turning to the right is probably inevitable as Japan continues to stagnate economically and the population ages. And, of course, the escalating clashes with China and Korea will only strengthen this trend.

      Because the Japanese are generally quite ignorant of history and clueless with regard to world affairs, as well as being sadly deluded about how strong they are, it’s likely that eventually this rightward turn will land them in a world of hurt. What they should be doing right now is making nice with their neighbors (one of which, China, is strong enough to destroy Japan). However, it seems likely that, even after Ishihara is gone, Japan will continue to antagonize China. They might also even succeed in parting ways with America. And then Japan might wake up one morning and find that it lives right next door to an angry 800-pound gorilla and their traditional protector, America, is now busy in Beijing trying to negotiate a way for China to continue buying American Treasury bills. Talk about a rude awakening. But, really, what can one expect from a nation that has almost literally made a cult of historical amnesia and execrable education?

    13. Eric C Says:

      One small addition to my previous post: One thing I’m constantly amazed at is people’s concern with who becomes the next prime minister of Japan. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. The idea that the prime minister has any real power is ludicrously naive. It displays a fundamental ignorance of Japanese political realities.

      Another thing that never ceases to amaze me is how the Japanese media love to measure and report on the public’s support of the present cabinet ( 内閣支持率 ). Of all the meaningless political barometers, this would surely rank near the top. Another laughable aspect of this is the way it swings from wildly positive to wildly negative, reflecting the incredible fickleness and cluelessness of those being polled. Of course, the only good answer a person could give to a poll on their support for the cabinet would be “Why should I care?”

    14. caton Says:

      Kudos to Eric C for bringing it back to first principles, namely the reality as revealed by van Wolferen, et al, that Japan is a mandarin-run state with a millimeter-thick veneer of parliamentary democracy pasted on top. (Among the canonical “et als” are Taggart Murphy and his “The Weight of the Yen,” which describes in grisly detail how the ur-mandarins of the Finance Ministry run the show here – note the sudden harmony and consensus, the alignment of the stars, that took place in the Diet when it came time to increase the consumption tax?).

      Ishihara had a much taller bully pulpit as Mayor of Tokyo; his talk about future political endeavors strikes me as face-saving over his likely being pushed out of the position from which he’s caused so much grief to Japan’s bureaucrats and the companies toward which they relentlessly guide their amakudari parachutes (Murphy describes the role Okurasho amakudari bureaucrats played in the what was to be the demise of JAL).

    15. AM Says:

      I strongly dislike Ishihara for his racist stance against foreigners.
      My biggest concern is Police Crimes: i.e. the Suspicionless Stops.
      Ishihara caused an increase in these Suspicionless Stops in Tōkyō.

      Suspicionless stopping my ability to walk freely on the sidewalk.
      Suspicionless demands to give up my lawful right to remain silent.
      Suspicionless demands to agree to a street interrogation session.
      Suspicionless demands to verbally testify about “where I am from.”
      Suspicionless demands to prove myself innocent of having no visa.
      Suspicionless demands to prove myself innocent of carrying drugs.
      Suspicionless demands to urinate in a cup, based on neighborhood.
      Suspicionless stops mean that I become late to business meetings.
      Suspicionless stops mean onlookers see me as a probable criminal.
      Suspicionless stops mean police causing defamation of reputation.
      Suspicionless stops mean income loss due to defamation & lateness.
      Suspicionless stops mean my body is seized and forced to not walk.
      Suspicionless stops are illegal according to Japanese Police Laws.

      #1 The old Foreign Registry Law stated “ARC must be shown only when in Police Duties.”
      #2 Police Duties Law Clause Two states “Police Duties require a suspicion of a crime.”
      #3 Police Law 162 states “this applies to all individuals 個人, not just citizens.”

      These J Laws state suspicion of a crime is REQUIRED to stop any individual 個人 in Japan.
      These J Laws protect all 個人 regardless of the “Citizen” remix in the J-Constitution.
      These J Laws mean ALL suspicionless stops are ILLEGAL thus are literally Police Crimes.

      PM Ishihara would make Japan be a Police State, like he did Tōkyō.
      PM Ishihara would increase Police Crimes, the Suspicionless Stops.

      My boss on the other hand, is hoping that Ishihara will become PM.
      My boss loves Ishihara for his strong stance against bureaucrats.
      My boss’ biggest concern is: bureaucrats’ big pay+numbers+power.
      My boss feels PM Ishihara would cut bureaucrats’ pay+numbers+power.

      I think my boss values lowering taxes more than protecting rights.
      Me personally, I would rather pay high taxes than lose human rights.

    16. Eric C Says:

      @AM:

      Total agreement re suspicionless stops. But, don’t worry: Ishihara doesn’t have a chance in hell of becoming PM. I’d be a bit worried about Hashimoto though. As for your boss not giving a care about human rights: you’re surprised?

      @Caton:

      Thanks for the comment and book recommendation. I’ll check it out.

    17. AM Says:

      So it seems smart folks say that
      the current ranking in Japan is:

      The Ministers (Top Bureaucrats)
      Seirei Writers (Middle Bureaucrats)
      Politicians (Laws trumped by Seireis)
      City Office Workers (Lowest Bureaucrats)

      The question then is, “Who covertly gives orders to The Ministers?”

      Do the names of the real controllers of Japan appear in the news?
      Just as most people in America don’t know about Zbigniew Brzezinski,
      (he gave orders to [ahem "advised"] JFK, LBJ, JEC, GHB, and now BHO,
      thus the unasked question is “Who gives orders to Zbigniew Brzezinski?”)

      Back to Japan, well smart folks:
      “Who gives orders to Ichirō Ozawa?”
      “Who gives orders to the Minister of Finance?”
      “Who gives orders to the Bank of Japan Governors?”

      These are not theoretical questions: the order-givers need to be named.
      Smart folks, please, post the names of the order-givers of Japan.
      I hope someone here can post some names, so legal action can be taken.
      I fear the honest answer is, “We don’t know who gives the orders.”

    18. AM Says:

      @catoneinutica – or anyone else who may know:

      #1 Ishihara had been helping to promote Aum Shinrikyō in Russia.

      #2 When the March 20th 1995 Sarin Gas attack occurred, Ishihara feared questioning about having had supported Aum Shinrikyō.

      #3 Just 2 weeks later, on April 4th 1995, Ishihara inexplicably suddenly quit his diet seat and laid low for awhile, to reduce the chance of this “Ishihara Aum Shinrikyō Supporter Scandal” being picked up on.

      The above is interesting news to me, thank you for sharing, and I would like to find some evidence to share with people.

      Wikipedia mentions that 浜田 幸一 「ハマコー」 (Kōichi “Hamakō” Hamada) revealed this fact 3 months later in his July 1995 book entitled 「ハマコーの非常事態宣言」 ISBN 4-391-11762-2

      Most people in Japan don’t mind Ishihara’s racist comments about foreigners.
      Most people in Japan don’t mind Ishihara’s sexist comments about women.
      Hopefully, most people in Japan WILL mind that Ishihara supported Aum Shinrikyō.

      So, does anyone else have any sources (from “mainstream” sources if possible) that state Ishihara had indeed supported Aum Shinrikyō?

    19. dude Says:

      I note many negative comments about Shintaro-kun. I concur.
      But I do not see anyone questioning
      a) his timing – why now?, or
      b) his logic – quit being governor to join the diet???

      If he chose his exit (and was not pressured out), then we can assume that he chose an opportune time to leave;
      i) to help his chosen successor (possible), or
      ii) to throw his enemies off balance (combined with i, above, more likely), or
      iii) to help him in his bid for a diet seat (most likely).

      So my question to all of you is, what does he see, that we do not? He is not a Sarah Palin, resigning half-way through her first term as Governor of Alaska, to “have more power to change things” – this is Shintaro-kun. He has proven himself to be a crafty politician. People who have sided against him have continually lost. What made him chose this move, at this time?

      IMHO, if he could combine ‘giving’ the Tokyo Governorship position to someone, along with blocking “undesirables” from running, all the while using both to garner more support for his diet bid – he could make a big splash in the diet – something similar to the Tea Party in the U.S.? Not big enough to vote stuff in by themselves, but big enough to block stuff that other politicians want? His party could potentially hold the critical deciding votes that other larger parties have to come begging for…

      BTW, I do not like Shintaro-kun. But I respect him, and the danger he poses.

    20. jjobseeker Says:

      I have made my dislike for Ishihara fairly well known in these digital walls, not just for his racist, sexist, zionistic philosophy, but also, and perhaps primarily, for the fact that he seems to get a pass over things other politicians would be burned at the stake for—anybody remember the Tokyo Ginko fiasco in which he bailed out that bank’s failed investment (based on his recommendation) with Tokyo public taxes?; his popularity among Tokyoites seems inexplicable other than for his shoot-from-the-hip public image—ask any Tokyo citizen what he’s actually done for Tokyo during his grip on the governership and I bet you will be met with puzzled eyes; and his constant push for development of the Daiba Bay area stinks to high heaven of cronyism.

      So, who is really backing him is the most dangerous question. Before the previous gubernatorial election in which he said he wouldn’t run for, members of the LDP asked him to run because “he would win by a landslide” if he did. Well, he actually did win by a landslide. And around me the joke became “If everyone I know voted against him, why did he win?” Was that LDP quote a prediction or a promise? If it was a promise, then it’s obvious he has friends in high places (beyond government) who can mobilize or fund a large number of people to put their vote in for Ishihara. Remember when he said Tokyo would buy the Senkakus and questions arose if he would use public funds? He asked for private donations and got it from anonymous sources? Well who are those people? Where do they get their money from? And why wasn’t the identities of these donators further investigated?

      These are the things that actually make Ishihara dangerous on the national level. He himself is just a blubbering old fool, but a popular one and one with strong ties to scary sources of money and influence. If a seat on the Diet means he’ll be able to grease the wheels for THOSE people, then we have a lot to actually be afraid of, and not just in terms of NJ in Japan, but Japan as a whole…

    21. DeBourca Says:

      A few months after the march earthquake, I read a report about burakumin being hired by yakuza and sent up to fukushima to clean up the radiation arout the Daiichi plant. They were paid the grand total of two hundred dollars a day for this (less, lodging, food and ‘fees’ I”m sure.

      On the same day, Ishihara announced he was pouring billions of yen into the Olympic bid for Tokyo, which was doomed to failure from day one, as anyone with a brain could see.

      That was it for me. I realised this country was finished.

    22. DR Says:

      In the same way that, just because the US Government is corrupt to the core, misguided and off on the wrong path, according to various polls released of late, it doesn’t mean that Americans are any of those things. Innovation, a sense of hard work and fair play still figure high on their values list. DC’s failures don’t mean that Americans are incompetent, or that the country is impotent. It certainly doesn’t mean that the military can’t bite. Underestimating this has cost many dearly.
      So too with Ishihara. That old goat didn’t get to where he is today by being a doormat. You can bet your last Yen that he’s done what he’s done for a reason, that makes sense to him, and that he thinks will both succeed, and forward his agenda. (Could you really imagine him making a conscious choice for failure? Miscalculate, yes. But choosing abject failure? Don’t believe it for a minute.)
      If you ever catch an eel while fishing you’d better whack the tail HARD. That’s where the ‘bite-instinct’ resides, not in the head. So too with Blinky, it would be wise to beware the tail-end of his career. The old snake still has a lot of bite. If history is anything to go by, the worst may yet be to come! Don’t be the last ‘soldier’ to die in a battle of Blinky’s choosing.

    23. Eric C Says:

      @DR

      That’s an interesting post. But saying that Ishihara does not reflect the people he represents discounts the fact that Ishihara was put in positions of power by the electorate. Presumably, those who voted for him share his values.

      As for warning us not to be the last soldier to die in a battle of Blinky’s choosing, isn’t that a bit melodramatic?

    24. Eric C Says:

      @DeBourca:
      For me, the moment when I realized the country was finished came a bit earlier. It was watching those helicopters hover over the stricken reactors trying to drop water onto them. What a tragic comedy of errors. And everything that happened thereafter only confirmed my worst suspicions. Of course, long before that desperate spectacle, I had pretty much come firmly to the conclusion that Japan was only going to change for the worse and that I didn’t want to raise my children there.

      As for Ishihara pouring billions of yen into a Tokyo Olympic bid, the thing I can never understand about that is why the foreign media doesn’t ask the obvious question: Why on earth should we send the Olympics to Tokyo when the place is ruled by an avowed racist, elected each time by comfortable margins?

      As you can see from the article that Debito made the subject of his newest post, you and I are not alone in coming to the conclusions we did about Japan.

    25. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      @Eric C

      “But saying that Ishihara does not reflect the people he represents discounts the fact that Ishihara was put in positions of power by the electorate. Presumably, those who voted for him share his values.”

      Remember, though, that the electorate is quite divided — by age in particular:

      http://channel03.jp/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/274108161.jpg

      Ishihara was put into power by Tokyo’s numerous elderly. Voters under 40 most emphatically do not share his values, as evidenced by the fact that they voted for Higashikokubaru more than the incumbent.

      Ishihara only got a majority vote from those over 60. He got a plurality from those over 50 (who supported him at twice the rate of any other candidate), but not a majority. If “Blinky” wants to send the Japanese people off to war, those young enough to fight will not have much enthusiasm about it.

    26. Eric C Says:

      @Mark In Yayoi:

      Thanks for the graphic. Those are interesting stats. Okay, if you want to parse my words: Ishihara doesn’t reflect the values of all Japanese. But, he reflects the values of a lot of them, including quite a few young people. And, as Debito has correctly observed on this site, as those young people age, they will most likely take on the values of their elders. And, anyway, what’s your point? I was taking issue with DR, who tries to make the point that Ishihara is an anachronism in Japan, which he is not: he represents the views of many, many Japanese. As for Ishihara sending anyone off to war, please read my main post on this thread and please study the way the Japanese government works. Ishihara cannot and will not have the power to send anyone off to war. Folks, let’s please stop these hysterical posts about Ishihara. He’s a nasty old piece of work, but he’s not a dictator and cannot become one in the years he has left on this planet.

    27. DeBourca Says:

      a Eric C:

      Yes, it was a rude awakening for me.

      “As you can see from the article that Debito made the subject of his newest post, you and I are not alone in coming to the conclusions we did about Japan.”

      Indeed, but we are not well paid “Japan watchers” :)

      People really have gotten away with writing an awful lot of nonsense about Japan over the years,have’t they. It makes you wonder about what they’re all saying about China now.

      @Mark in Yayoi:

      The young might not be enthusiastic about going off to war, but they”ll do what they’re told.

    28. Flyjin Says:

      ” The Center-Left in Japan (in the form of the DPJ) tried their liberalizations (with NJ PR local suffrage, etc.) and lost badly due to the hue and cry over how NJ..would destroy Japan”

      As NJ rights is pretty much of non concern to most Japanese, as it does not directly affect them and there is no Civil Rights Movement, I think those who vote for the DPJ only did so to finally remove the Taro Aso misled LDP. But the NJ “threat” is pretty much across the board- the DPJ thought it would be a vote loser next time around. I move that J people do not vote DPJ because they are pro NJ, its because they are anti LDP.

      As for the generation gap in Ishihara voting, I cannot see masses of youth who certainly did not vote for a nationalistic foreign policy marching off to war. I think quite a few would immediately leave Japan if push came to shove, there are quite a few leaving already if they have a toehold anywhere else, be it a job, or a relative overseas. Source? My 50% Japanese expat client base outside Japan.

    29. DR Says:

      @Eric C: I will concede to some melodrama, the effects of late night surfing with a glass of Chianti in hand, no doubt. However, my Spidy-sense is that things could get worse for NJ, especially if Blinky has any electoral success, before they’d get better under a younger, and hopefully, more enlightened Tokyo MG/Diet membership. Like AM above, who has a long litany of legitimate grievances, we could see a trapped raccoon-like and desperate Ishihara, or his black-van-driving sympathizing ilk, in positions of power just lash out on a scale we’ve not seen before. Watching the very public demise of Japan as a regional economic and political power could spur them to extreme measures. Already we have had reported here the phenomenon of the Narita dungeon, for returning NJ who have dared to criticize the mishandling of Fukushima on blogs or Twitter. Ishihara, I think, is not above advocating a modern-day Kenpetai whose focus would be exclusively on NJ, and to hell with any innocents caught up in the net. Being NJ means you’re guilty, end of story! Hence my reference to avoid being caught up in that conflict. To Ishihara NJ, of any stripe, are about as welcome as Jews were in the Reich, as hated as the Irish were in Britain during ‘the Troubles’, as suspect as Muslims are in the US after 9/11 and as undesirable as the Roma are across the EU today. DeBourca above says it well. Under no circumstances should he have anything to do with welcoming the world to a 2020 Olympiad. He can’t slap up a “Japanese Only” sign at the border, and then expect the entire world to come and play in his games.

    30. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Some very interesting points raised here. How did Blinky get a free pass over his banking fiasco? How did Blinky get a free pass over his involvement with a certain religious cult? What happened to all the donations for buying those Chinese rocks?
      The fact that Blinky gets so many free passes from the domestic news media tells us that either he is very well connected, or that the media are tacitly endorsing him, or that the media are so hopeless that they can’t even manage a basic level of investigative journalism (given that the J-cops are relying on confessions, it seems unlikely that journalists are in possession of better investigative skills). Perhaps the reality is more a combination of ‘all of the above’ to varying degrees.
      As I said earlier, lets see what happens in the national elections. That will tell us everything we need to know.
      As an aside, if anyone is still foolish enough to believe that ‘the youth of Japan are different’, then read this story;
      http://www.japancrush.com/2012/stories/korean-comfort-women-posters-put-up-at-japanese-universities.html

      And while I am at it, take a look at this, Japanese youth is normalizing honoring war-criminals (read the comments);
      http://www.japancrush.com/2012/stories/is-it-trendy-to-be-right-wing-asks-article-netizens-react.html

    31. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      @Jim – Am I missing something? The article talks about posters about Korean comfort women put up by Korean students at Japanese universities, but doesn’t say much about what Japanese students think of them.

    32. Eric C Says:

      @DR #29:

      No worries: I’ve drunk and posted before. To tell the truth, I don’t think your worries are misplaced. NJ could easily become the victims of various purges and attacks as Japan sinks into backwardsness, stagnation and irrelevance. The thing is, unless the system changes drastically, Ishihara cannot, as a single Diet member, bring about these purges and attacks. That is to say, he could not do so through normal political means. However, he might be able to do so through the media or through his connections to the right wing.

      My experience in Japan tells me two things: 1) Once this sort of movement starts, no one will risk their neck to stop it (no one Japanese, I mean), and 2) There is an infantile and irrational aspect to the Japanese that will make them crave someone to blame for their downfall, and NJ will make easy targets.

      As I’ve said on this site before: The fact that this clown was the governor of Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, tells you everything you need to know about the place. Why is Japan even admitted into the “polite society” of advanced nations? Wait, sorry, I do know why: Because America needs it as a forward base in Asia.

      Changing the topic slightly: If you want a good read, check out “The Japan That Can Say No.” It’s brimming with the optimism of the 80s. Between every line you can read the message: We Japanese are about to take over the world because we are superior. Well, have a look at the place now. The only thing that’s correct about the book is the title: Japan did say no. They said no to entering the future.

    33. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Mark In Yayoi #31

      You must have missed the Japanese netizens comments that have been translated into English. Here are a couple of choice examples;

      ‘Even if they ask ‘Do you remember?’, I mean, the whole thing never even happened anyway.’

      ‘The Japanese government should immediately make posters that say, ‘There is no proof that the comfort women were forced into prostitution, who do you believe?’, and stick them next to the comfort women posters.’

      ‘If you notice one of these posters, I want you to burn them. Then, they should make all the resident Koreans wear armbands that say, ‘Korean’ on them. [The term used here for 'Korean' is 'chousen jin' which was the word used to refer to Korea before 1945, and refers to the entire peninsula, including North Korea.]‘

      And these are just a few, but typical. What is most worrying is that these are the most up-voted by Japanese comments, and therefore translated.

    34. Jim Di Griz Says:

      And to round it off, we now have a triumvate of racist war-crime denying apologists forming national political parties;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121101b4.html

      The ‘nanking massacre is an exaggeration’ Mayor of Nagoya wants a piece of the action too.

    35. DR Says:

      @Eric C, Thanks.
      Well, the big picture, as I have seen it for many years now goes something like this:
      (1) Debt. Despite the fact that much of the national debt is domestically held, it’s still debt. Debt, one way or the other, cripples growth. Two hundred-and-whatever percent of GDP REALLY cripples growth!
      (2) Demographics. An ageing society, at the rate Japan is moving there, needs brave decisions, which, as yet, are not forthcoming. (Same goes for other countries…Japan is not alone here. It doesn’t require a uniquely Japanese solution, though!)
      (3) Environmental degradation. A critical overview of Kerr’s “Dogs & Demons” will find, in the light of Fukushima, that Japan’s very land is mismanaged and degraded beyond belief, with an excess of 60,000 unmarked toxic waste dumps, endless concrete-ization of questionable value, and many other useless construction projects, some unfinished. With 37% food self-sufficiency, Japan has a problem, especially in 800+, now almost empty, ghost towns across the nation, where nearby fields lie fallow, or irradiated beyond redemption. NHK regularly does stories of city-folk making fools of themselves trying to ‘return to the land’ to the still inhabiting locals’ great amusement.
      (4) International Politics. Rather than realizing the implications of all of the above circumstances, and making sane decisions to address them, the spokespeople for Japan have, almost to a man, pissed off all of their regional neighbors, to the point of approaching armed conflict, which they cannot win unaided. (Talk about failing to stop digging while you’re in a hole!)
      And (5) Industrial prowess. Having expanded for cheaper production costs in the late 80′s and since, a collective “Yikes!” hit home about six years ago. All R & D came back to Japan, but, it was too little, too late. Even simple sales or good products have become problematic. (See Toyota’s latest SNAFU in the Chinese market as an example.) Korea, China and elsewhere now produce arguably better, cheaper and more adaptable products for foreign markets, using the Japanese model. Heck, even Japanese themselves want an iPhone instead of whatever DoCoMo is offering!

      All of these phenomena are the writing on the wall. The likes of Ishihara and his ilk have not yet learned to read the message. If you resist change, money will go elsewhere. If you piss off the neighbors they’ll just play their music louder. Sooner or later, you’ll become irrelevant, a Detroit of Northeast Asia, if you will. Sadly, successive nameless, faceless, bumbling, harrumphing Prime Ministers and their equally forgettable cabinets have made every conceivable mistake in the book, while Ishihara has egged them on as if they weren’t moving fast enough in that direction! He’s even out now urging a return to nuclear technology, arms I suspect.

      The big losers in all of this are the Japanese people themselves. The promises made to them in successive social contracts have never been kept. And they likely will never be kept, because the country, IMHO, is bankrupt. Good people deserve better! One can only hope that the emerging generation has the perspective to learn from their elders’ mistakes, and trun the ship of state away from the rocks, before it’s all beyond redemption.

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