2012 Election Special: Japan’s lurch to the right has happened, as predicted. DPJ routed, LDP and Ishihara ascendant in Dec 2012 LH Election

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Hi Blog. It’s been said that people get the democracy that they deserve.  Although unduly harsh, that rings true today, as the results of 2012’s election have absolutely routed the DPJ and placed the old-school LDP/Koumeitou alliance and the even older-school Ishihara Party, pardon, Japan Restoration Party (JRP) with a greater than 3/4 majority (LDP/KMT at 324, JRP 54) as a total in the 480-seat Lower House. (Source: Yomiuri 12/17/12) This is well over the 320 votes necessary to override the Upper House’s vetoes, and essentially makes Japan’s bicameral legislature unicameral. This new parliamentary composition could very well squeeze out a revision to the Self-Defense Forces (calling it what it really is: a standing military that should be unconstitutional) as well as force a “revision of the pacifist American-made Japanese Constitution” out of this.  More on this below.

The DPJ, for its part, was completely and utterly routed. It went from 230 seats in the Lower House to, as of this writing, a mere 57. Even in my home area of Hokkaido, a bellwether DPJ stronghold, the DPJ lost *ALL* their seats in their 12-district electoral system (with only two DPJ, including long-standing career politician Yokomichi — as a legacy vote due to his status as current Speaker of the Lower House and former Hokkaido Governor — squeaking by on the Proportional Representation vote). (Source: Yomiuri 12/17/12) This meant that eight Cabinet members lost their seats (two of them, Public Safety’s Kodaira and Health and Welfare’s Mitsui, from Hokkaido), which is by far a Postwar record (the previous record was only three in the 1983 Nakasone Cabinet). (Source: Yomiuri 12/17/12).

The smaller fringe parties saw increases more favoring the right than the left (as of this writing, according to the Yomiuri, Communists are down yet another seat from 9 to 8, socialist Shamintou down from 5 to 2, DPJ ally Kokumin Shintou down from 3 to 1, and the shards of other parties Mirai no Tou down from 61 to 9!).  The quasi-libertarian but really all-over-the-map-just-vote-for-us-already Minna no Tou was up from 8 to 18.  And one-man-party Shintou Daichi, run by the utterly corrupt Hokkaidoite and Debito.org bogeyman Suzuki Muneo, was also down from 3 to 1.

How to interpret all of this? Former and future PM Abe Shinzo rather glibly offers the assessment that the voters were “saying no to the confusion of the past three years” (a confusion created by people like him, note). I’m sure others have their reads, and we’ll let the Comments Section below cover that. My read is that people were voting less a “yes” for Abe (who was one of Japan’s most useless PMs when he was last in office between 2006-7) and more a “no” to the DPJ, who have had some of the greatest (literally) seismic shifts in power on their watch (the Japan Times editorialists would agree). If the LDP had been ruling in their place when these disasters all happened (given that the decades of systemic corruption were bred under their watch), I doubt they too would have been immune from the rout. That said, yesterday’s strength of the showing for the JRP I cannot interpret as anything other than a reaction to fear, particularly of a xenophobic nature (cf. China and North Korea, who timed their actions perfectly for the likes of Ishihara to exploit).

If one must search for the silver lining out of this election, it is that the far-right JRP didn’t pick up as many seats as was initially projected (100-150), but that was always just an optimistic guesstimate. And since both leaders of the LDP and the JRP have inchoate urges to mold a “beautiful Japan” in their image (read: more willful ignorance of history and nationalistic excess in the name of a more xenophobic nation-state), the real silver lining is that they have to come to grips with the unelected bureaucrats that are even more powerful and less accountable than they are.

What’s next? Here’s what the Japan Times says:

===================================
Both the LDP and the Japan Restoration Party are known for their hawkish attitude on constitutional issues. They call for revising the Constitution, including revision of the war-renouncing Article 9, and for exercising the right to collective self-defense.

The government’s traditional interpretation is that the Constitution prohibits Japan from exercising that right. If the right to collective self-defense is allowed to be exercised, Japan would be legally able to take military action to defend a nation with close ties with Japan if that nation is militarily attacked by a third party.

Attention must be paid to the fact that while a constitutional revision requires the support of two-thirds of the Diet members to initiate a national referendum on such a revision, changing the government’s interpretation of the Constitution related to the right to collective self-defense does not require such a procedure.

The LDP and other parties calling for the exercise of that right can enact a bill that will change the government’s traditional interpretation. Exercising the right to collective self-defense could open the way for putting Japanese nationals in harm’s way by involving Japan in military conflict not directly affecting it. This would violate Japan’s defense-only defense policy. Such a bill would completely gut the no-war principle of the Constitution.

The LDP calls for revising Article 9 to create a National Defense Force. Its draft revision states that the proposed NDF, under a specific law, can take part in international cooperative activities to help maintain peace and security in the international community — a concept that can be used to justify Japan’s participation in virtually any type of military mission abroad.

Even without revising the Constitution, the LDP may try to enact a bill to expand the Self-Defense Forces’ activities overseas. Given Japan’s military aggression in the Asia-Pacific region in the 1930s and ’40s, the LDP’s posture would arouse suspicions about Japan’s true intentions among neighboring and other countries, thus destroying the international community’s trust in Japan. It could also lead to a fierce arms race and destabilization of relations in East Asia, endangering Japan’s security.
===================================

Full editorial at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ed20121217a1.html

Fine words. But who’s listening anymore? Certainly not Japan’s voters at this time. Keep an eye on what happens from now, folks, because I think that once the sake cups have been drained and hangovers recovered from, these people are going to get to work with a vengeance. Because for this generation of old-schoolers (such as Ishihara), there’s not much time left for the Wartime Generation to undo all the Postwar liberalizations of Japan that have helped make Japan rich without overt remilitarization and aggression. For these fans of a martial Japan, who only value, respect, and covet a world in terms of power and hierarchy, revenge will be sweet. For as I have written before (Japan Times Oct. 2, quoting Dr. M.G. Sheftall):

“As a historian, it’s discomfiting having anything smacking of wartime ideology making a comeback while men who committed atrocities for the Imperial Japanese military still live. While they deserve some sympathy for what they endured under an ideology they were unable to resist or reject, I don’t they deserve the satisfaction of leaving this mortal coil feeling that Japan’s war has been historically vindicated.”

I think that is what this election has been all about. It’s just a pity that so many bad things had to happen to the Japanese public over the past three years to cause them to overlook this hidden agenda.  Arudou Debito

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PS:  As per the NJ-in-Japan bent of Debito.org, there is a decent assessment of how each party dealt with NJ issues before the election here.  Thus the winners of this election are clearly not pro-foreigner, and I bet NJ in Japan are going to be clouted as the pendulum swings to the right.

89 comments on “2012 Election Special: Japan’s lurch to the right has happened, as predicted. DPJ routed, LDP and Ishihara ascendant in Dec 2012 LH Election

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  • As has been noted in these cyber-walls, this election was going to (and now has been) a litmus test of what the Japanese people by and large felt more important. The election of the LDP in such a decisive and frighteningly do-whatever-they-want majority has cemented the fact that the public are far more afraid of foreign powers, foreign goods (TPP), and foreign influence than their own self-made tragedies—Fukushima being the most obvious, but even the recent tunnel ceiling collapse (a highway I use often myself) that points to the lax maintenance of Japan’s decrepit infrastructure (built by and managed by cronies of the LDP).
    This election has also shown just how gullible the voting public, in the worst voter turnout since the end of the war it’s being said, can be. I agree with you Debito that after the most recent major earthquake reminded everyone of the dangers of nuclear power in such a quake prone country can be, I find it very convenient for North Korea to test launch a missile/rocket and for a Chinese plane to encroach the airspace of one of those ocean rocks. Fear. The Japanese public are afraid and sadly also incredibly impressionable. That’s a recipe for blunder as this election has shown. Some voter interviews cast the moniker of “failure” on the last 3 years of DPJ rule while ignoring the last 30 years of failure by the LDP and the uselessness of Abe during his first and very brief tenure as PM. Some voters pointed to wanting Japan and Japan’s people to be kept safe (from foreign threats) while ignoring the fact that poorly maintained infrastructure can kill 9 people while Fukushima continues to displace residents and possibly is still effecting the food and land.
    I think we all knew that the LDP was going to take over, but the sheer majority of it is what I think is most disappointing. Many of my Japanese friends are also shocked but again, if everyone around me voted against them, then who did? You know it’s really bad when my Japanese friends are all jealous of the fact that I can easily leave and return to my country. Some are seriously expressing a desire to do so themselves. Without sounding overly dramatic: does this election truly signal the end of Japan as we know it?

  • How’d the JCP and the SDP do? I spent quite a lot of time convincing my coworkers to vote for one of those two parties, with my preferred party being the SDP. I’m trying to find a full breakdown of seats, but I haven’t found one yet.

    — Err… read my essay? I mention them both and even provide a link.

  • Derp, I skipped a paragraph where you gave the numbers! I was like, “But Debito… I DID read it… *reads again* Oh.”

    Sorry ’bout that.

  • Apathy seems to have played a role in this result. The voter participation rate was just
    under 60%, close to or below the lowest rate since this end of WWII:

    http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20121217ddm002010114000c.html

    衆院選:投票率、伸び悩み 政党乱立、有権者が迷い
    毎日新聞 2012年12月17日 東京朝刊

     衆院選小選挙区の投票率は59・32%(毎日新聞調べ)で、最終的に戦後最低だった96年の59・65%を下回る可能性もある。当日有権者数は1億370万1651人。選挙戦序盤から報道各社の情勢調査で自民党の優位が明らかになったことや、12政党が乱立し、有権者が投票先に迷ったことなどが影響したとみられる。

     衆院選が12月に投開票された過去4回の投票率は68・51%(69年)▽71・76%(72年)▽73・45%(76年)▽67・94%(83年)。29年ぶりの「師走総選挙」になった今回、投票率は12月としては過去最低になった。総務省が16日に発表した期日前投票(小選挙区)の最終投票者数も1203万9570人で、前回から13・9%減少した。

     昨年3月の東日本大震災で被災した岩手、宮城、福島3県では、小選挙区の投票率がいずれも前回を下回った。行方不明者は3県で計2709人(12日現在)に上り、県外への避難者も多い。各自治体は避難先からの不在者投票などを呼びかけたが、投票率の低下を防げなかった。

     毎日新聞の調べによると、小選挙区の投票率は岩手61・68%(前回73・41%)▽宮城55・24%(同67・35%)▽福島58・86%(同72・82%)。

     4日の公示日には野田佳彦首相ら4党党首が福島県内で第一声を上げ、震災復興への決意をアピールしたが、選挙期間中、3県の有権者からは「被災地置き去り」という批判も出ていた。【朴鐘珠】

    I’ve written a little about the situation in Kumamoto on a mailing list I run:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kumamoto-i/message/12280
    and
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kumamoto-i/message/12281

  • Dear all (esp. Jim), I left Japan (coz I am a flyjin and superfly) but was thinking of coming back to an OK job in Kansai.

    Should I bother? Kansai has got to better than Tokyo, right? Just how much negative effect on the microcosm can Hashimoto have?

  • Flyjin> Being in Shizuoka I can’t comment on Kansai, but if you’ve got a good job to go to and you’re really thinking about it then I’d say take the risk. You can effect more change from within than without.
    You might want to avoid burning any bridges in whichever country you’re in now, and probably try to avoid putting down any roots while your here (ex. is it possible for you to keep property where you are now and return to it later if needed?).

    Of course, you will have to change your nickname if you come back, “ex-Flyjin” doesn’t really sound cool enough.

  • @Flyjin #8
    Hello. I respect your ‘Flyjin and proud’ attitude!
    Should you come back?
    No, I would say.
    I have lived in Kansai for 12 years, and without a shadow of a doubt, since Lehmans shock, it has become markedly more openly hostile towards NJ, especially in the last year.
    Even if the job came with a great salary, if it’s in JPY I wouldn’t bother. See how much the value of the yen nosedived already today?
    This country will have to explore every option on the scapegoating menu before it takes responsibility for its own failings, and becomes a reasonable place to live as a NJ.

  • I agree with Jim. I also live in Osaka and the hostility against NJ is palpable here. I would be very careful but it’s possible to exist here with the appropriate support network and a “fortification” mentality.

  • I can’t if it’s worth goming back to live in Kansai or not, but if it’s just for the money, surely there are places you can make more in a shorter period of time? For example, Saudi Arabia, mine/construction work in Canada/Australia. Even South Korea have better terms and conditions for English teachers, and the cost of living is a lot lower. So maybe you are just taking an easy option? If you want to to come back because you want to live in Japan (because of family etc) perhaps, but is it worth putting up with the slow steady descent into Right wing nationalism/economic inertia etc if you don’t have to? These are only questions of course. Only you can decide for yourself.

  • Here is Eric Johnston’s take on the election results. I am not quite so sanguine. Debito

    Japan Times Monday, Dec. 17, 2012
    ‘Third force’ had high hopes but got stung
    By ERIC JOHNSTON
    Staff writer

    OSAKA — The “third-force” parties that ran in Sunday’s Lower House election hoped to win enough seats to serve as a powerful check to the established parties but got crushed at the polls.

    They’ve now turned their focus to next summer’s Upper House election.

    For Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), Sunday’s poll was proof the Osaka-based party founded by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto still has a long way to go to convince voters elsewhere that it’s a credible national force. Despite months of effort and planning, and predictions earlier this year the party might win over 200 seats, it ended up with just 54.

    But Nippon Ishin is not impotent. With 54 seats, it can submit its own budget-related bills and no-confidence motions against the Cabinet.

    Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121217x3.html

  • This election was essentially a referendum on whether or not Japan should continue nuclear power. And, guess what? They chose nuclear power. This is right after the world’s worst nuclear disaster just ruined the country’s agricultural heartland and consigned thousands of people, many of them children, to cancer. I mean, do you realize that the LDP was actively mocking the DJP’s anti-nuclear stance? And the Japanese people just elected the LDP by a landslide. To say this idiocy boggles the mind is wild understatement.

    Oh, and let’s not forget that the LDP also proudly boasted during the run-up to the election that they would continue with wasteful public works projects of the sort that has Japan sinking in unimaginable debt.

    And I won’t even go into the fact that the LDP has also hinted that it’s going to take a hard line with China, which is a boast about as foolish as Saddam Hussein promising to give the US military “the mother of all battles” (not that I was ever in favor of the invasion of Iraq, mind you).

    One thing that really puzzles me is these vast swings in public support for the parties. It all seems so scripted. I recall the runup to the previous election: it was like it was announced in advance that the DJP were the going to win and therefore everyone voted for them. This time, it was basically announced that the election would go to the LDP and, voila, the LDP wins in a landslide. Truly, the people are simply following directions.

    Well, as several posters above have pointed out: the Japanese have made their bed (dug their grave?) and now they must lie in it.

    That said, as I’ve pointed out several times on this site, the whole Diet/PM thing is just a distraction. The real power in Japan lies elsewhere. Martin Fackler at the NY Times’ Tokyo office says that this is merely a repudiation of the DJP’s inability to get anything done, repeating a common analysis in the Japanese media. This analysis has some merit insofar as you buy into the quaint notion that it the Diet and the PM actually wield any real power in Japan. In fact, as has been amply documented, it is the ministries (who write 90% of the laws and essentially decide the budget) and the Keidanren (and the keiretsu that they represent) who control Japan.

    This back-and-forth “struggle” between the LDP and the DJP and Japan’s 回転総理大臣(revolving prime ministers) is just a nice little bit of kabuki theatre to keep the people entertained and distracted. I’m using “kabuki” here in the common Western sense of the word: a meaningless spectacle. It’s a nice parallel to the laughable tug-of-war between the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States, the only differences being, of course, the nature of the secret powers who actually run the show (in one case career bureaucrats and industrial fatcats, and in the other, a coalition of bankers, arms manufacturers, drug companies and a foreign government – I’ll leave the readers to guess which foreign government I think wields disproportionate power over American foreign policy).

    What’s interesting is how the Japanese people sort of came close to grasping the problem: Yes, indeed, the DJP didn’t get anything done. But, the people missed the reason: Because the DJP tried to tangle with the ministries and the ministries quickly undermined them. Don’t you recall how the DJP announced how it was halting several high-profile public works projects as soon as they took power and then almost immediately backed off from this? Who do you think put that pressure on? Even the Times came right out and clearly stated that the ministries called the DJP to heel.

    Okay, you can forgive the Japanese people for not understanding who really runs their country. Who is capable of that kind of analysis and research? But, you really do have to shake your head at their incredible level of apathy, especially among the young. Japan is in full crisis mode and – not to put too fine a point on it – most Japanese, particularly the young, just don’t give a damn. And those who even bother to vote – even those in Fukushima – install the same gang that even the popular media in Japan has implicated in running the country into the ground and allowing Fukushima to happen. That alone should make you shudder in horror at both the power of the propaganda machine in Japan and the weak intellectual powers of most of the citizens of the country. To look at the results of that election and not shake your head in true despair for that place requires a level of intestinal fortitude or deeply ingrained optimism that only the luckiest members of our species posses.

    I’m happy to say I also voted. I voted with my feet a few years ago to leave Japan. This election confirms that it was the best decision I ever made.

  • It seems at last, may be, the new BBC report R W-H, is getting a grip on what is going on here and reporting it.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20728387

    “..Japanese politicians only have themselves to blame. Since the Japanese economic bubble burst in 1992, Japanese people have lived through 20 years of stagnation and deflation.

    Ask any economist of any stripe what Japan needs and they will give you a very similar list.

    Regulation needs to be loosened, foreign investment welcomed and women empowered to stay at work while raising families.

    The government should invest in education and science, rather than in endless pork barrel infrastructure projects that Japan doesn’t need. And people will need to pay more tax if Japan is to avoid one day going bankrupt..

    ..Although he is the leader of the “old” LDP, Mr Abe is far more right wing than most of his predecessors. In particular he has very right-wing views on the history of Japan’s aggression during World War II.

    He has repeatedly denied that the Japanese military forced Chinese, Korean and women from other Asian countries into sexual slavery – the so-called “comfort women”.

    Mr Abe even supports revoking a Japanese government statement, made in the early 1990s, acknowledging and apologising for what Japan did. ”

    Not seen the BBC state so publicly before. Perhaps the global spot light will shine on Japan and then where will it make its excuses?

  • The next election could be more worrying. From what I have been reading so far and with the DPJ losing all the seats, it seems that with the DPJ gone, the only available options are either LDP or JRP.

    If the LDP somehow lost and the JRP really got as many seats (200+) as stated above, things may have gone even worse. Unlike many western nations where politics are more balanced both ways, it seems Japan’s politics is leaning over to one direction only. Xenophobic ideas are met with little resistance in Japan and there is practically no counter voice to criticize the far-right.

    Xenophobia sells like hot cakes over there, its just too easy and tempting to exploit for practically any politician in Japan to overlook as a tool to gain power.

    People say that the LDP won’t last more than a year before the election. However since the DPJ was completely crushed and should the LDP guys end up stepping down at some point, this may leave the JRP without any competition.

    Judging from this:
    “For Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), Sunday’s poll was proof the Osaka-based party founded by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto still has a long way to go to convince voters elsewhere that it’s a credible national force.”

    The only thing they need to do more is to play their anti-gaijin mantra louder, harder and more frequently Throw in a few conspiracies to the lines of “Oh NOES!! the DPJ and LDP are hijacked by gaijin!!”(Like that case where a far-right winger was trying to discredit Renho solely for being gaijin) Top this off with politicians defecting from LDP, DPJ and possibly others into the JRP and you have a recipe for a JRP victory within 1 or 2 elections.

    “Hashimoto still has a long way to go to convince voters elsewhere that it’s a credible national force.”

    IF Japan doesn’t change and remains its current course then Hashimoto is already on easy street. There is practically nothing standing in the way of the JRP.

  • Eric C’s analysis above is an excellent confirmation of a postmodern nightmare. Japan is the most advanced (or degenerate) in this respect.

    The people elected the way the media told them to.

    Similarly, the “meaningless spectacle” echoes Debord’s spectacle.
    Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: “All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”[1]
    With the term spectacle, Debord defines the system that is a confluence of advanced capitalism, the mass media, and the types of governments who favor those phenomena: “the spectacle, taken in the limited sense of ‘mass media’ which are its most glaring superficial manifestation”.

    3. I would like to express my complete incomprehension as to what model Japanese politics is now; I would say in this way it is most certainly unique as

    1. There is no party of the left. Even in Britain, Labor still pretend they are, even if they are not and so in some ways have to be seen to be following leftist policies on occasion.

    2. People in Japan are offered a choice between a right wing party, or another right wing party. Or another right wing party. To be electable, parties must be right wing. Even the apparently progressive Minna no Tou etc appear xenophobic (Kawada, Tsutsumi).

    3. The “liberal” party is a religious sect (Komeito). I never thought I would come to welcome them in a government, but at least as Soka Gakkai accepts foreign celeb members so it might have a moderating effect.

    I honestly cannot think of any other country that has such a bizarre political landscape. The cliche used to be that Japan’s politics were Italian, but in Italy leftist parties are strong. I cannot even say Japan follows America, although it looked like that in 2009, as Obama is clearly more liberal.

    Japan represents the classic crisis of capitalism in its last form, it is the country which Marx and later Lenin, would have loved as it proves their hypothesis;

    there is no choice as all the parties are essentially right wing capitalists and corrupt, and are all essentially the same.

  • @Eric C #14
    Well said. Completely agree that the real tragedy in all of this is just how well the Japanese voters took to the kind of cheap theatrics one would find in a elementary school play being played out by the media. Absolutely no critical thinking as to the why’s and what for’s of what is being told them. Of course, the mind numbing of the population was probably also thought-out—Japanese education being what it is these days. It’s sure only to get worse with Abe v.2.

  • It will be interesting to see what America and it’s armed forces do after the GOJ try to change the constitution and re arm. I think the Neo Cons might have supported it, but would the current administration allow it?

    This will be the ultimate litmus test as to whether or not Japan is a real state or a protectorate of the USA. What does Debito think will happen? Remember how Obama basically forced Hatoyama to resign.

    — Given that the USG generally lets the GOJ have its cake and eat it too (especially in terms of trade), I think the US-Japan Security Treaty will continue to exist (it’s too good a free ride for Japan). That said, Japan’s far-right will eventually agitate for US base removal, as they too know bases are cramping their style and keeping their “genie in the bottle”.

    However, I think that within Ishihara’s lifetime, we’re very likely going to see revisions (perhaps even an outright replacement) to the “American-imposed Constitution” allowing for a Japanese military in name. Then we’ll see a quiet buildup in Japan’s land, sea, and space militarization (both of which Ishihara and Abe will burst a button of pride over) in the name of deterring putative threats in Asia (i.e., PRC and DPRK). Whether that means the US bases will then go is at this point unclear to me, anyway, and in any case I’m no expert on this stuff. But that won’t stop people agitating for it.

    The compromise position many years from now is probably the US bases getting off Naichi Japan, being confined to Okinawa if anywhere (as few people in Tokyo’s halls of power have cared all that much about Okinawa anyway). That’s my read at this point. Let’s come back in ten years and see how well I did.

  • Yokohama Michael says:

    Honestly people, get a grip!

    You are acting like it’s the end of the world! Everybody knew this was coming. All that has happened is that Japan, given its history and demography, has returned to its inevitable political course (center right).

    One thing that is certainly good about the LDP coming to power is that Abe will probably get all the nuclear power plants working again as soon as possible. The election has certainly shown that the Japanese public refuse to be cowed by a fear-mongering anti-nuclear campaign, and that common sense has prevailed. I hope you stop beating that tired old drum Debito! To try to shut down a huge and vital industry because of an accident that killed or injured noone…well, the idea almost defies belief and thankfully it has been soundly rejected.

    The return of the LDP is not a step in the right direction socially. But it is not the end of the world, and returning to nuclear power might (just) prevent economic disaster in Japan.

    — Enjoy the fallout. It is cumulative.

  • Another tragedy is that Noda actually seems quite sensible:

    “Healthy nationalism is essential…but if taken to extremes it can become hostility to foreigners,” said Mr Noda, who has described “tough talk” as a growing but unwelcome feature of discussion of security issues in Japan.

    Mr Noda declined to identify those he saw as responsible for the new mood, but leaders of big parties challenging his ruling Democratic party’s grip on power have staked out relatively tough positions on China and the territorial dispute.

    “This kind of [ultranationalist] atmosphere or mood is emerging . . . and it’s possible that tough talk could captivate the public, but that would be the most dangerous thing for the nation,” he said.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2d691270-3168-11e2-b68b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2FOlim400

    — SITYS.

    Financial Times, November 18, 2012 12:30 pm
    Noda warns on rise of anti-foreigner sentiment
    By Mure Dickie in Tokyo and Ben Bland in Phnom Penh

    ©AFP Japan’s prime minister has warned against excessive hostility to foreigners ahead of an election that many analysts say will mark a rightward shift in Japanese politics, amid a flaring territorial dispute with China.

    In an interview with the Financial Times, Yoshihiko Noda, prime minister, stressed the need for calm handling of the dispute with China over a group of remote and uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

    China’s increasingly assertive pursuit of its maritime territorial claims will be a central campaign issue in Japan’s December 16 general election and at a series of regional summits starting yesterday on Sunday in Cambodia.

    In a blow to Japan and the US, south-east Asian leaders meeting in Phnom Penh agreed not to “internationalise” the maritime disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea – excluding other nations who claim a national interest in debating regional security issues.

    As part of its strategic pivot to Asia, the US joined the East Asia Summit last year and has stated that it should be the big forum for the discussion of regional security issues such as the South China Sea rows.

    Diplomats said that, although some south-east Asian nations remain very concerned about China’s renewed assertiveness, they were eager not to upset Beijing at a “sensitive” time when the Communist party’s leadership transition had only just taken place.

    The feud over the Senkaku islands has plunged ties between Tokyo and Beijing into their deepest chill in decades and sent ripples of concern through a region where many nations are nervous of China’s rapidly growing power.

    Speaking before his departure for Cambodia, Mr Noda rejected criticism from China over Tokyo’s handling of the island dispute and said he would seek to lead discussion on stronger international rules on maritime issues.

    But Mr Noda also took aim at what he said was the emergence of a potentially dangerous “atmosphere” that could threaten his nation’s ability to deal effectively with the island dispute.

    “Healthy nationalism is essential…but if taken to extremes it can become hostility to foreigners,” said Mr Noda, who has described “tough talk” as a growing but unwelcome feature of discussion of security issues in Japan.

    Mr Noda declined to identify those he saw as responsible for the new mood, but leaders of big parties challenging his ruling Democratic party’s grip on power have staked out relatively tough positions on China and the territorial dispute.

    Instead of harsh language, Japan needed to see the big picture in relations with China, said the prime minister, whose centre-left Democratic party is widely expected to lose power in an election set for December 16.

    “This kind of [ultranationalist] atmosphere or mood is emerging . . . and it’s possible that tough talk could captivate the public, but that would be the most dangerous thing for the nation,” he said.

    “[In ties with China] we want to respond calmly and not let a single issue cause all-round damage,” he said.

    Shintaro Ishihara, who as Tokyo governor this year sparked the current Senkaku crisis by launching an effort to buy the islands for development, on Saturday joined with the nationalist-minded mayor of the western city of Osaka to contest next month’s general election.

    Mr Ishihara has in the past spoken disparagingly of Chinese people and has described China as aggressive and expansionary.

    Shinzo Abe, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic party and the favourite to become Japan’s next prime minister, has also signalled a more assertive approach toward China.

    In recent weeks, Mr Abe has vowed to “resolutely defend” the Senkaku, pledged to raise defence spending to “send a signal” to Beijing, and said he backs “freedom and democracy” for China’s restive western region of Tibet.

    However, Mr Abe has also insisted he will be able to maintain stable ties with Beijing, citing the marked warming in Sino-Japanese relations achieved during a previous term as prime minister in 2007.

    All Japan’s major parties share the view its sovereignty over the Senkaku is incontrovertible, a position that Mr Noda stressed in the interview as an unshakeable bottom line.
    ENDS

  • As support for Eric C’s thesis that the election is a referendum on nuclear power, we have this:

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121215f1.html

    Excerpts include:

    “We’re heavily reliant on the atomic energy industry for jobs and for the subsidies it brings. What are we going to do if the power stations aren’t reactivated?” asked Ayako Kawamura, 32, a local resident.”

    Morons. They’re as bad as those NRA people in the states who are clamoring to arm teachers rather than control arms trading in the US. IMO

    — I don’t think the linkage here is a good one and I don’t want to get into a gun-control debate in this site on Japan issues. I think the better allusion to make is one of financial alcoholism — where regions become dependent on unhealthy economies despite the potential and real risks and dangers.

  • @Fight Back

    “I also live in Osaka and the hostility against NJ is palpable here. I would be very careful but it’s possible to exist here with the appropriate support network and a “fortification” mentality. ”

    Has it ever occurred to you that your “fortification mentality” might not be the cause of the “palpable hostility” you feel? I suspect the two might be very strongly linked.

    — I hope this won’t devolve into a two-way conversation again. Keep referring to the blog post topic in question as well.

  • @Flyjin, regarding whether to seriously consider taking a job in Japan. A few questions: is the job a temporary contract? Is the money worth it? And most importantly of all, can you accept being back in Japan?

    I would have to say that if you answer ‘yes’ to at least two of the above questions, then you should seriously give Japan another chance (especially if on a temporary basis).

    Think about it. You’ve already lived here, you know the lie of the land and the quirks of Japanese culture. You don’t have any illusions. This means that you won’t be spending your first few months dealing with culture shock and psychological fatigue. You’ll know how to pick your battles, and when to shrug stuff off. In other words, you’ll be working the system to your advantage.

    It might not be easy at times, but on a temporary contract (say, one to three years) you’ll be able to grit your teeth and get through the same stuff that ground you down so much before when you thought you were stuck in this country forever.

    On the other hand, the things that you actually liked about Japan (and I’m sure there were a few!) will seem all the more sweeter because you know you’ll only be experiencing them for a limited time.

    As for the money situation, the important thing is not so much how much you earn, as how much you save. You’ve lived here before, you know how to live like a local – cheaply – and you have the smarts to avoid the usual money holes that expats fall into. (It would help if you happen to like gyudon, too. These days it’s going for as little as 300 yen!)

    If I were you, I’d come back, and make the most of it. Hey, I’m a pragmatist … I couldn’t continue living in this country if I wasn’t.

  • In case anyone hasn’t seen it,「日本を取り戻す」is the campaign slogan of Abe and his party. It’s written all over campaign posters and TV commercials. And it literally means “to take Japan back”. As in take Japan back from the foreigners. Or take Japan back to a past era.

    Heheh, that’s all Japan needs right now. You’d think that a country in such a mess would want to move forward, or progress to a better future. But nope, leave it to the Japanese to want to move backwards. Someone forgot to tell them that it’s going to be 2013 soon, and that after that will be 2014. And that the general idea of the rest of the world is to move forwards. Never in my life did I think a political party in a developed country could win by campaigning on the “let’s move backwards” ballot. Oh well, like they say, “This is Japan!!”.

    — Well, no, as “bringing something back” from “better days” is an element of conservatism anywhere, so as repugnant as this slogan is (especially regarding NJ, who in their view of history have never been a real part of Japan’s legacies) I wouldn’t go down the “uniqueness” road.

  • @Jim Di Griz; I think that you have made the most succinct assessment of all today.

    “This country will have to explore every option on the scapegoating menu before it takes responsibility for its own failings, and becomes a reasonable place to live as a NJ.”

    Klar, knapp und gültig.

  • Ok, some thoughts on the election.

    As predicted, a swing to the most extreme right that Japan has seen since 1945, with a PM who wants ‘patriotic education’, and remilitarization as his personal agenda. Where’s the ‘but the young people are different!’ crowd now?
    The young people mainly didn’t vote, it appears.
    And why should they? What was really on offer? As much as posters on other forums (the kind of people who still call China ‘Red China’ or ‘Communist China’) liked to bleat on about the DPJ as ‘socialists’, the J-public were offered no meaningful choice; LDP (on a right wing binge), Nihon Ishin (fascist), Komeito (religious cult), DPJ (LDP ‘Lite’), or a one issue vanity party. I, like them, would choose ‘none of the above’, as did 41% of those eligible to vote.

    Where does this leave Japan? A 59% voter turnout, in a system weighted towards the rural votes, where all parties pandered to the votes of the aged. A quick analysis of the votes shows us that the winners; the LDP, actually garnered about 30% voters eligible to vote.
    30%.
    And on that mandate, they will ignore sensible economic planning and spend money they haven’t got on projects I would like to say that the country doesn’t need, having had so much pork-barrel construction for so many years. However, as the recent tunnel collapse shows us, past pork-barrel projects were clearly very badly subject to ‘cutting-corners’ in order to pocket the saved cash, and it is quite likely that many of these pork-barrel projects of the past are sub-standard, unsafe, and actually now require large cash input. Such a shame. Even Japan’s great infrastructure seems to be just another myth.
    On this mandate also, the LDP will seeks to delay consumption tax increases, whilst reversing deflation into inflation (there goes the value of your savings!), and don’t think that you will get a pay rise as all the products around you increase in price (remember, Japan imports 60% of it’s food).

    At the same time as this, you can rely on ‘Sick-note’ Abe, and Aso (remember him? The PM who couldn’t read kanji) as Finance Minister are sure to teach those Chinese they can’t push Japan around, but must buy Japanese products, right?

    There is a huge political vacuum from the viewpoint of most urban voters under the age of 40. Will any party step up to represent them, or the 1/3 of the workforce stuck in temporary jobs? Or will Hashi-moron grow tired of Blinky first and realize that he could have done better without him by sticking to his roots?

    ‘Sick-note’ is starting from an effective approval rating of 30%, and the Japanese voters punish a lack of quick results, which ‘Sick-note’ may not be willing to take the risk to give them with an upper house election in the pipe for next summer. Effectively, the result of this election is more of the last 6 months until the gloves are taken off (or firmly put on until the next lower house election) of ‘Sick-note’.

  • >Not seen the BBC state so publicly before. Perhaps the global spot light will shine on Japan and then where will it make its excuses?<

    The BBC has been doing a great job covering the rise of the nationalist in japan. ishi even dissed one of their reporters during a coverage of a right wing meeting with Ishi. I havent seen much from CNN though. One of the dumbdowned CNN reporters commented that hopefully Abe can help get the tsunami victims back on their feet….seem to be unaware of what really goes on here and probably doing what allot of them do, saying thing that keeps listeners dumb and feeling good about their "ally". I have noticed that Ishi has been promoting Japans advances in space. This has always troubled me; I think Japan will soon be capable of launching a weapons platform from space. More clever manipulation- you dont need to send troops overseas, you can launch from space, and catch China and N. Korea, possibly the U.S. off guard. Its something to keep an eye on, I dont think think anything is off limits anymore with these nuts and Ishi has an axe to grind with the U.S.

  • People are commenting about the apathy of Japanese youth. Lack of desire to study abroad, lack of desire to climb the corporate ladder, lack of interest in politics, lack of any real dreams/desires or motivation. If the politicians are clamoring for a re-militarization of Japan, I ask the question: Who is going to make up these armies? Do you think the average 18-19-20 year old male in Japan wants to join the military? There is no hair wax or designer jeans in the military. or will it be made up of 70-80 year-olds longing for the “good old days”? Of course I am over-exaggerating but in all seriousness, will the youth of Japan join the cause?

    — Oh, they will if the external threat is made large enough. And the PRC and DPRK’s actions are playing right into that…

  • Debito – thanks for the response (and all your hard work!) you have worked with university students for many years now, I just don’t see the students I teach becoming that engaged. Bombs would have to be literally blowing up in front of them to get them to move. This is the same generation that doesn’t care about the Senkakus or even getting out to vote. I agree about the PRC and DPRKs action can act as a catalyst, but it seems like it is just a war between the elderly political elite.

    Side note about Japanese Patriotism. (Sorry to compare to America, I am American) In America it is very common to fly the American flag on holidays or even all year round. For most people this isn’t a political statement, just a simple act of patriotism. Liberals and conservatives alike do it. But with the exception of ultra-nationalist here in Japan, I rarely see the Japanese flag. The people that I have asked said it reminds them too much of war and they don’t want to fly it in front of their homes.

    Sorry about that side note – but I thought it gives an insight in to the mind of the “average person” with regards to re-militarization. Do you agree/disagree?

    — Disagree. I have seen plenty of Japanese flags flying without regard to “wartime memories” nationwide. And the fact that flag displays and singing of the national anthem have been enforced in all of Japan’s public schools for most of Japan’s current school generation have done much, I think, to normalize Hinomaru flag-waving in the same way as flag-waving has been normalized in, for example, The States. (The Rightists have their own flag to demonstrate their more extreme nationalism with — the Kyokujitsuki). It’s all a matter of reactivation of the trappings of “love of country” by generating an extranational crisis. Point is, I see all the dominoes falling into place for this now.

  • @Yokohama Michael

    Don’t speak too soon on that one. I just found out a young woman I was teaching English to here in Sendai is dying of cancer. She was living 10km away from the Fukushima plant when it blew and waited until the government told her to evacuate.

    Now, it is perfectly possible that her illness has nothing to do with the accident, but let’s give it ten or twenty years before we start saying that no-one has been hurt here.

  • I agree with Debito. If history is any guide, then I would have thought that the younger people could be persuaded. During the Meiji period, the people were initally lukewarm to the idea of empire building and the like, but the press helped sway public opinion. Victories against China and Russia made a big difference, I suppose to the Japanese impression of themselves. They saw themselves as able to stand up to and even defeat other powers. If Abe really is as stupid or delusional as is widely thought, then who can doubt he will continue down this route? Half of the “opposition” is more to the right than he is, and the DPJ is shattered.

  • Frankly the Chinese government (and the North Koreans) are partly to blame for their incendiary attacks on Japan and missile testing, so vicious and provocative have these been that they have actually woken up a lot of otherwise pacifistic and non-political Japanese, who have promptly voted for the party preaching the toughest line. (a line which is much easier to give in opposition than government.) Of course Ishihara is to blame too, but he just one (crazy old) man, the governments of China and North Korea should act more responsibly.

    In the short term Japan might benefit from a dose of LDP governance (although their majority is too big and very dangerous – thank goodness for the constitution.) But in the long term their being in power threatens the core well-being of the Japanese people and potentially allows a drift towards the dangerous levels of inequality and social division seen in the US and UK as well as most other westernised nations.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    @ Baudrillard #34:

    I know this is only annecdotal evidence, but look at the number of Japanese around you who say “Pearl Harbor was a sad movie, because many Japanese got killed”, “The World Trade Center attacks were sad because Japanese people died”, “World War II [read: The Pacific War] was sad because…”

    Unfortunately, this mantra of sadness if it happened to Japanese people, combined with an ignorance or denial of what happened between 1895 and 1945 and a victim mentality, has lead to a generation who feel that they are being pressured into appologising basically for getting nuked.

    And somehow, Blinky is credited as being the only man who took action during the “invasion of Japanese territory”. The very possibility that China may have some kind of claim on those rocks is not even considered – I mean they have been Japanese territory 昔から [the default line used when a Japanese person doesn’t understand something, but for some reason NJ are not allowed to use it]
    / Side note: notice how Blinky is allowed to say and do things that would require a blood sacrifice if anyone else did them? /

    Basically, our best hope for the moment is the group of vocal older generations who demand that article 9 and the non-nuclear policies stay in place.

  • @Chris B #33

    Frankly the Japanese government is partly to blame for years of insincere apologies and denials by politicians of Japanese war crimes, textbook revisionism, and hosting the US Army (making Japan a target).
    China and N. Korea are not responsible for what Japan does, Japan is responsible, and needs desperately to face up to that (and many other) ills it continues to blame on external forces.

    Apologize much? Better get some knee pads.

  • Yes it was a highly predictable and thoroughly uninspiring dog and pony show last weekend that takes Japan back to the devil it knows. The old boy’s club is back in power and the Keidanren must be slapping each other on the back and rubbing their hands together with glee. More pork barrel spending, more cronyism and corruption, more short sighted policy, more strong words with little substance. Right wing nationalists also gained ground and will slowly but surely drag Japan away from international friendship and co-operation towards isolation and some perceived militaristic and cultural golden age.

    The biggest losers in this whole sorry affair are the youth of Japan. Young people are Japan’s most precious resource yet what is striking (but not really surprising) is the lack of interest from this group. Their apathy and disengagement is being exploited by those in power to their own ends and who will in turn expect to be taken care of by the younger generations in the years to come; cooking their meals and changing their bedpans, paying their pensions, fighting their wars, all the while trying desperately to get out of the economic hole that has been dug for them while using outdated skills and techniques in an attempt to re-engage with a world that is rapidly leaving them behind.

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    As Japan swings to the right the government is trying to figure out how to save a few yen by being more efficient in kicking people out of the country… Merry Christmas (note the tone of the story)…

    “Justice Ministry to use chartered flights to send deportees home
    December 19, 2012(Mainichi Japan)
    http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20121219p2a00m0na011000c.html

    The Ministry of Justice has decided to start using chartered planes to forcibly repatriate non-Japanese residing illegally in Japan in a bid to cut costs, it has been learned.

    Under the current system, deportees are sent home individually on commercial flights with other passengers. The ministry says chartered flights have the advantage of being safer and more economical.

    The ministry will seek about 30 million yen in the coming fiscal year’s budget to cover related expenses. It says that if the budget passes, it will be able to forcibly repatriate about 350 people refusing to comply with orders to leave Japan each year — up from the current figure of about 150.

    When a non-Japanese national is found to be residing illegally in Japan, the Justice Ministry issues a written deportation order, and as a rule, the person is detained at an immigration facility and then sent back to their home country.

    Last year, written deportation orders were issued against 9,348 people residing illegally in Japan. Of these people, 3,103 were from China, 1,681 from the Philippines, and 1,172 from South Korea. However, as of the end of October, there were about 2,500 people who refused to be repatriated or took such action as filing for refugee recognition, resulting in their detention periods being extended and them being released as temporary measures — roughly a threefold increase over the space of five years.

    The cost of deportation is, in principle, shouldered by deportees, but since those refusing to comply with written deportation orders usually have no intention of leaving, the government has no option but to cover the cost of sending them home. National funds are also used to cover the cost of air tickets for between two and five immigration officers who travel with the deportee. Under the current system, there have been times when deportees have raised their voices or created other disruptions in the plane before takeoff, resulting in the airline refusing to transport them.

    The Justice Ministry considered an approach under which about 100 deportees would be sent to the same country at once, and calculated the cost. Using a charted flight, the cost of sending each person back to their country could be reduced to about one-third of the current cost, the ministry found.

    “The use of chartered flights is common in Europe and the United States,” a ministry official commented. “In terms of cost and safety, it’s a method that kills two birds with one stone.”
    ENDS

  • It is a bit unfortunate, but there is no doubt that more aggressive policies by China and North Korea had a huge impact. And as America continues to string itself out with wars in the Middle East and looming fiscal cliffs, it’s easy to see why Japan wants to stand on its own. Is war coming? Almost certainly, if history is any guide. Eventually, China or North Korea will cross a Rubicon of sorts and the powder-kegs will ignite. I’m not sure if it is in Japan’s best interest to be pacifistic given this eventuality. Better to start beating the plow-shares into swords while there is still time.

  • “Under the current system, there have been times when deportees have raised their voices or created other disruptions in the plane”

    Raising your voice? Oh yes, I believe that counts as domestic violence in Japan too, and is also an excuse for Japan not signing the Hague Convention.

    What next? “Looks that could kill” as assault?

  • So the BoJ buys some 10 Trillion yen of assets in an attempted (an attempt mind, no guarantee, to stimulate the economy), that’s wayyyy too many zero’s. Compared to saving a paltry 30million yen with a group of people that is also wayyyy lower in percentage terms of the population of Japan as a whole…ahh yes..small is beautiful 😉

    The maths doesn’t add up…no wonder the economy is in a mess when they can’t see the wood for the trees with such simple arithmetic errors!

    — We need some context to this comment. Please rewrite and resubmit with context.

  • Well, it’s rather obvious really, picking up from the report by John#38:

    “1. The Ministry of Justice has decided to start using chartered planes to forcibly repatriate non-Japanese residing illegally in Japan in a bid to cut costs, it has been learned.”

    The BoJ wants to stimulate the economy (another stimulus package). This current one (20th Dec) being 10 Trillion Yen, in the assets purchase program.

    To repatriate illegals, is costing the Govt 30million Yen, as per report above. Shock horror!!

    Japan has had endless stimulus packages, none of them has worked. It has been a revolving door of injections from the BoJ into their porkbelly type programs like building airports where none are needed etc. and actually do nothing for the economy, save for those where their hands have been greased 😉

    To compare 30million yen as a percentage of this current stimulus expenditure is just 0.0003%.

    The endless wastage of taxpayers’ money in these pathetic stimuli is welcomed by all (so it seems??), yet there is no evidence of these ever working to revive the economy; the results speak for themselves, the 2 lost decades! Whereas the 0.0003% ‘saving’ is given the flag waving of success.

    Thus can’t see the wood for the trees……saving 0.0003% is seen as a success, whereas the annual Trillions of Yen that are wasted is not.

  • A slight glimmer of hope from an unlikely (and unsavoury) saviour:
    “The LDP’s caution may be explained in part by its coalition partner New Komeito’s call to phase out nuclear power. Komeito’s support is crucial for the LDP to maintain the two-thirds majority it needs in parliament’s lower house to overcome a policy deadlock as it has no majority in the upper house.”

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/early-japan-reactor-restarts-unlikely-despite-ldp-win-080546103–finance.html

    This is quite ironic in a way; Komeito are a law unto themselves, as members of the religious cult Soka Gakkai MUST vote for them. Unlike LDP or Japan Restoration Party, who must actually appeal to voters.

    So I find it fitting that these undemocratic parties may find some of their policies blocked by another, even more undemocratic but kind of less xenophobic (because, as I explained before, Soka Gakkai wants foreign celeb members), smaller party.

    Tough.

  • @ Baudrillard #44

    Perhaps you have inadvertently hit upon something here. Maybe all us NJ, should join Soka Gakkai and encourage as many NJ friends as possible back home to join? That would be a kind of grass roots gaiatsu. We could take advantage of SG’s need to enfranchise it’s international members.

    — I hope you don’t mind tithes.

  • One thing I want to bring back, and that I felt its a worthy reminder. One contributor Orpe in one of the past articles: http://www.debito.org/?p=7577. Said this:

    “History has a tendency to repeat itself, as the article points.

    In the 1920s, Germany, once proud and extremely powerful and rich, was in economic ruins. An obscure political party that initially met only on a beerhall was becoming more and more popular, with its ultraconservative ideas and blaming the jews for all the problems of Germany….

    In 2010, Japan, once proud and among the richest countries on earth, was in a second decade of economic slump. As residual wealth gets over, the economic prospects are very dark. An obscure political party that initially met only on the internet, was becoming more and more popular with its ultraconservative ideas and blaming foreigners for all the problems of Japan….”

    Just as the original commenter Orphe predicted, the ultra-right, which started as a small and insignificant party, now becomes a force to be reckoned with, effectively becoming the “third force” in the elections, gaining 54+ seats within just months of its founding. I am refering to the JRP. This quote was from an article in 2010. Now its 2012 and see where we are. Not to mention that the LDP does have a reputation of having ex-warcriminals and relatives of ex-warcriminals who share common beliefs. Such Shinzo Abe’s grandfather for example.

  • This is, unfortunately, a very likely outcome. It doesn’t help that China is itching for a fight either. A further problem is that most of Japanese people don’t even know what happened in the last war, other than the fact that atomic bombs were deployed.

  • Nevin Thompson says:

    I don’t think this is a lurch to the right. 25% of the electorate voted for the LDP. Ishiba even said that Japan’s electoral system needs reform, since the LDP won more seats with fewer votes than in the last election.

    Japan is like any other mature democracy – sometimes the electorate votes to punish (in this case the DPJ) rather than according to ideology.

    I think it’s fair to say populism is gaining momentum in Japan, notably in Osaka and Nagoya. This is a little unusual, since populism is usually popular outside of urban areas.

    Abe was able to make peace with China last time, hopefully he can do it again.

  • Bayfield (#46), you could be right that there are some parallels between Germany in the early 19th century and modern Japan. Prussian values and education system, a widespread feeling of having been forced into an unbearable submission by the winning parties of WWI, and an irrational, unwarranted feeling of superiority of “the German way”.
    Yet, I think if we do compare, modern Japan is in some respects even more worrying and unstable than Germany was back then. For example, Germans at the time were not known for being overly xenophobic. Berlin was a very international city on par with Paris, and there was plenty of cultural exchange and friendliness with the European neighbours and the United States. Before the Nazis took over, there was no forced “Gleichschaltung” of the media, and counter culture and diversity was embraced. In short, Germany did not even have in place this kind of societal and mental breeding ground for fascist ideas. (I’m not saying there is evidence Japan is heading towards fascism, but if such ideas would some day gain popularity, then Japan’s society would be ideally structured for being turned into totalitarianism).
    I’m optimistic though, because even with the appalling ignorance of the history of the 20th century, I think the Japanese would not let it come that far because the world, as a whole, looks like it has learned a lesson from what happened in Germany.
    Yet, I think it would be a very bad idea to let Japan have nuclear weapons as long as this drift to the right isn’t reversed.

  • @ Markus above. As Japan has never really been de-nazified on the same scale as Germany, there is no surprise that post fascist ideas persist, such as a one party state since 1955, and curious ideas about racial purity and stereotypes.

    A military skirmish is coming, at the very least. In my time in Japan, there always seems to be a mini crisis very few months or so, then things calm down temporarily with no real solution as things just get swept under the carpet, until it blows up again (sorry, rather unfortunate turn of phrase there).

    I used to think Japan was a good place to get work done, except for the occasional interruption by the police or immigration, or a stalker, or just something-that these were isolated incidents.

    That was before there were earthquakes every 20 minutes and a constant cloud of gloom, xenophobia, and health risk paranoia, whether real or imagined (as it has the same stressful result).

    Japan for the NJ is now just an exercise in gaman.

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