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  • Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 20th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

    Hi Blog. On the eve of Aso finally dissolving his Cabinet and reading the country for another election, bashing politicians resumes its role in society as one of the national sports. And it times like these one enjoys watching politicians kinda squirm to explain themselves. Here’s Aso doing his, asking for more tenure because, well, he’s entitled to it. Direct from the Aso Cabinet, his mail magazine justifying himself. Enjoy it as a time capsule of attitude and rhetoric, as he flies his LDP into the group. Assume crash positions, everyone. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    From: “Cabinet”
    Date: July 15, 2009 11:27:11 PM MDT (CA)
    Subject: [Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.39] (July 16, 2009)
    Reply-To: kantei@mmz.kantei.go.jp
    Courtesy of Peach
    ========================
    Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.39 (July 16, 2009)
    ========================
    “A time of decision”
    – Message from the Prime Minister (Provisional Translation)

    On Monday this week, I made the decision to dissolve the House of Representatives early next week.

    Since taking office last September, I have consistently stated that the responsibility of politics is to ensure the peace of mind of our citizens and to safeguard people’s daily lives.

    In order to discharge this responsibility, my cabinet has focused all its energies on economic and stimulus measures. Abnormal circumstances require extraordinary countermeasures. We have passed four budgets.

    Although we are still facing austere economic circumstances, the policy effects are gradually appearing, bringing some bright signs in the Japanese economy. Production has started to grow in business with many related industries and a broad base, such as eco-cars and energy-saving home appliances.

    We have placed particular emphasis on maintaining employment. For businesses which fail to increase sales despite all efforts and find it difficult to maintain employment, we have expanded the employment adjustment subsidies, thus supporting the employment of more than 2.5 million people.

    We have also enhanced support for micro, small and mid-sized enterprises. Approximately 800,000 companies, or one in five of about 4.2 million small and mid-sized enterprises nationwide, are making use of a total of approximately 16 trillion yen in loans and credit guarantees. Securing their cash-flow has led to the job security of a great many people, numbering more than 5 million.

    I will resolutely pursue economic countermeasures so that Japan will regain its vitality and each household and micro, small and mid-sized enterprise can sense economic recovery.

    Meanwhile, I have also done my utmost for the security of Japan.

    We have strengthened the Japan-US alliance, the cornerstone of Japanese foreign policy and the pillar of our security. In close communication, President Barack Obama of the United States and I are collaborating in efforts to address issues, not least the financial crisis and others including the North Korean issue and the fight against terrorism.

    North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear tests are a real threat to the safety and peace of mind of the Japanese people in their daily lives. Japan took a leading role in the United Nations Security Council in sending a resolute message to North Korea. We are currently preparing a law for inspection of North Korean cargo, so as to render the Security Council resolution effective. The bill has already been passed by the House of Representatives, and I call for the cooperation of the opposition in the Diet for its enactment.

    To Japan, which relies on the Middle East for 90 percent of its crude oil, measures to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden and the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan are of vital importance for maintaining our livelihoods. In order to achieve peace in the region, we have responded boldly in cooperation with other countries around the world.

    The responsibility of politics is none other than to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

    As I am in a position of responsibility, I must clarify the fiscal revenues for policies and the path to restore fiscal health in the long term. I must also show a clear diplomatic vision to protect the people. I will work together with the people to create a vision of the future of Japan.

    How do we balance the enhancement of the social security system, such as pensions, medical care, and nursing care, with the rebuilding of public finances? How do we work with the international community to address the North Korean issue, which threatens the security of Asia, and the piracy issue, and to fight against terrorism?

    For these difficult issues, I will listen to what the people have to say and dedicate myself to fulfilling my political responsibility to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

    Lastly, on the website of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet we created a new section under the title of a “Japan which I Seek to Achieve,” which introduces my views on the following four topics*: achieving a society providing peace of mind; foreign policy; growth strategy; and global environmental issues. Please take a look.

    * The section is currently prepared in Japanese only. For the English translation of the Prime Minister’s speeches and the transcript of a press conference on these topics, please click below.

    – Speech by Prime Minister Taro Aso on A “Society Providing Peace
    of Mind which I Seek to Achieve” (June 25, 2009)
    http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/asospeech/2009/06/25speech_e.html

    – Japan’s Diplomacy: Ensuring Security and Prosperity Speech
    by H.E. Mr. Taro Aso, Prime Minister of Japan (June 30, 2009)
    http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/asospeech/2009/06/30speech_e.html

    – Japan’s Future Development Strategy and Growth Initiative
    towards Doubling the Size of Asia’s Economy (April 9, 2009)
    http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/asospeech/2009/04/09speech_e.html

    – Speech on the Environment by Prime Minister Taro ASO (June 10,
    2009)
    http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/asospeech/2009/06/10kaiken_e.html

    * Profile of the Prime Minister
    http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/asoprofile/index_e.html

    ========================
    [What's New in Government Internet TV]

    <1ch>Prime Minister
    [Prime Minister's Week in Review]
    – Ceremony to Present the National Honor Award and other topics
    (June 29 – July 5, 2009)
    http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/eng/prg/prg1900.html

    * Please click below to open “Japanese Government Internet TV”
    in English.
    http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/eng/index.html

    ========================
    [What's up around the Prime Minister]

    – Ministerial Council on Monthly Economic Report and Other Relative
    Issues (July 13, 2009) and other topics
    http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/asophoto/index_e.html

    * Please click below to open the online magazine
    “Highlighting JAPAN,” which introduces the main policies of
    the Japanese Government, as well as Japan’s arts, culture,
    science and technology, among other topics.
    http://www.gov-online.go.jp/eng/publicity/book/hlj/

    ========================
    [Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine]

    – Click below to make comments on this e-mail magazine
    http://www.mmz.kantei.go.jp/enquetePcEn

    – Subscription, cancellation, and backnumber of this e-mail
    magazine
    http://www.mmz.kantei.go.jp/foreign/m-magazine/

    General Editor : Prime Minister Taro Aso
    Chief Editor : Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jun Matsumoto
    Publication : Cabinet Public Relations Office
    1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

    ENDS

    One Response to “Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power”

    1. James Says:

      “I have consistently stated that the responsibility of politics is to ensure the peace of mind of our citizens and to safeguard people’s daily lives.”

      I should say that the responsibility of politics is indeed to ensure the peace of mind and to safeguard the daily lives of honest citizens and guests alike.

      In the respect of guests, my conclusion has to be that Mr. Aso’s performance has to be considered a failure.

      Governments, of necessity in their pursuit of safeguarding and other goals set to them, get entrusted with greater power and capabilities than other organizations. This power brings with it the potential to adversely impact the lives of honest people. One can argue about the likelihood and the intentions, but the raw potential of the various fault trees is there nonetheless.

      As a result, any government that honestly wishes to safeguard the people under it’s responsibility must of necessity put itself and it’s institutions on the list of threats to safeguard against, even on the shortlist of the largest threats to safeguard against. That this causes conflict and friction, and that it’s emotionally difficult to accept this problem is acknowledged, but governments get their privileges, budgets, powers and most of all confidence for the purpose of solving difficult problems. Simply ignoring, refusing to acknowledge the problem, or pointing to the difficulties does not score points.

      Internationally there are standards on how to safeguard people from the government of the country they are in. To be sure, the standards are far from perfect and not a single government has a perfect track record, though there are differences to be found. Again, the usual explanations that other countries are far worse and that there is compliance to imperfect standards may be just that, an explanation, but never an excuse. True progress comes not from relative quality, but absolute quality, and from rising above the international standards where this is necessary. Points are not scored for excuses, but for results.

      Getting to the main point, when it comes to guests, there is a worldwide increase in government powers, all too often without a sufficient corresponding increase in the necessary safeguards. While most of the attention of activists goes to Orwellian risks, the most immediate problems are Kafkaesque, the kind of bureaucratic indifference, errors (denied on no other ground than the article of faith that errors are impossible and therefore impossible to correct), abuses, frustration, lack of transparency and lack of accountability (see DANIEL J. SOLOVE, ““I’ve Got Nothing to Hide” and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy”), the kind of processes Franz Kafka described in his books “The Castle” and “The Trial”. Again, one sees differences in international reactions, the EU and within the EU the country of Germany show relatively careful thought about the problems involved, while the UK and the US have suffered serious criticism for neglect on this point.

      From what I see, during the period of Mr. Aso’s office, the Japanese government has not given the problems the thought that is warranted by due care. While it is granted that the Aso government, like many others, started on the back foot due to the actions of predecessors, one can see for instance that the Obama government in the US has started to tackle the worst excesses left by it’s predecessor, and that after a series of scandals, the Brown government in the UK is slowly considering the issues it created.

      I have observed no evidence that the Aso government is giving this new course much thought. On the contrary, I do see evidence of an increased momentum on the downward course described.

      Security is both a feeling and a reality, and they are not always the same thing (see Bruce Schneier, “The psychology of security”). When it comes to safeguarding people against Kafkaesque processes, security comes from creating actual safeguards to prevent, detect, and correct problems that can and will arise even with simple honest mistakes. When it comes to giving peace of mind, this can come from a variety of responses, depending on the state of mind of the people involved. But it is fair to say that for some people, and in the case of Japan particularly so for a group of western guests, peace of mind simply comes from showing the safeguards on request, without trying to conceal anything or give a different appearance from reality.

      This group is particularly important. Not only is a failure to do so a direct failure in giving peace of mind, it also casts a spell of suspicion on the existence and quality of actual safeguards. It is this failure that has become painfully clear to me.

      While mistakes are made everywhere, and must be taken into account up to reasonable levels (and weighed against the desire to improve), I see too low a quality and too low a desire to improve from Mr. Aso’s government to change my opinion on him having failed in a key responsibility.

      I do not see this as a Japanese failure. From many Japanese – unfortunately not in a position of direct influence – I see an honest desire to improve and learn about these problems. In my view, it is a failure of bureaucracy, ultimately the responsibility of Mr. Aso and the LDP as being the Prime Minister and the party in office.

      I therefore have no confidence in a further term for either at this time. I think it’s best for everyone if they rethink their policies for a while out of office.

      – You’re too quick to draw a line between “citizens” and “guests”. There are plenty of people who are neither. At least two million registered NJ who are taxpayers and residents. Thanks for the essay, but don’t fall into this false dichotomy so often perpetuated by the very powers that be that you are decrying.

      PS. I doubt Aso used the word “people” in the Japanese original of this speech. I bet it was “kokumin”. Again, that false dichotomy.

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