How undemocratic! It’s not a single-issue election

Reuters published a rather strange analysis/opinion piece on nuclear power and the forthcoming general election. Lets have a look at some of the more curious parts.

[I]t would underline a lack of credible anti-nuclear political standard bearers in Japan and the ability of the LDP to focus the debate on security matters and the stalled economy.

The first clause is correct, but I’d disagree with the second. The economy, along with pensions and benefits, are the most important issue with the population according to surveys, and although I feel Abe talks a lot about national security, I don’t really think it is much of a focus.

An LDP win would also signal successful lobbying by Japan’s "nuclear village"

That doesn’t seem to either fit in with what I understand by the term "lobbying" or explain how the nuclear village could make the LDP win.

"Since Fukushima, Germany rejected nuclear power and Italy rejected nuclear power. If Japan can’t, the world will be amazed."

Neither of these countries rejected it at the polls, and Germany only decided, if I understand it correctly, to accelerate their decommissioning schedule. Is the world amazed by the UK, USA, France, etc not rejecting nuclear power?

"The LDP is the likely winner and is pro-nuclear, but it will not win because it is pro-nuclear but because the DPJ is so hapless and the economy is in trouble and people figure it is time for a change," said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus.

Yup, I agree.

The DPJ swept to power in 2009 for the first time, promising to put more money in the hands of households through such steps as child allowances and to boost the economy by re-orienting spending and cutting waste. But critics say its promises were honored mostly in the breach

"Critics"? The whole population, and even Noda himself, said that they didn’t keep any of these promises!

"It’s as if public opinion doesn’t matter at all," Kingston said, referring to the sidelining of the nuclear issue by the main opposition party. "It reinforces perceptions about Japan’s democracy deficit."

Well then, why aren’t the DPJ and the rest making the running? Do parties have to ensure that all their policies have majority support before putting them in their manifesto?

Yukiko Kada, the female governor of Shiga Prefecture in western Japan.

Why is she the only one worthy of having their gender noted?

Critics say the veteran deal-maker Ozawa, who quit the DPJ over Noda’s plan to raise the sales tax to curb debt, lacks credibility given his checkered record of political flipflops, although Kada might offset his negative image and help bring together disparate anti-nuclear mini-parties.

I’d say that Ozawa and Kamei (I’m not convinced of his anti-nuclear stance) hiding behind Kada indicates more of a "democracy deficit" that Mr Kingston’s example.

A new party set up by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto to woo disaffected voters also blotted its anti-nuclear copybook by dropping a target for ditching nuclear power after merging with a small pro-nuclear party led by the nationalist octogenarian ex-mayor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara.

I was never convinced that Hashimoto was or is committed to No Nukes.

Some changes are already afoot, including the introduction of a feed-in-tariff (FIT) program under which utilities must buy power from suppliers of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power at pre-set premiums for up to 20 years and moves toward more competition in the utilities sector.

The feed-in-tariff is being cut or dropped by many countries as they realise it is far too expensive, even at a lower premium than in Japan. The issue of breaking up transmission and generation is barely touched in manifestos (I think Your Party only?) but I think it is the best way to cut costs.

"There are a number of factors that would likely stand in the way of a return to business as usual. But it’s not impossible," DeWit said. "I think we can’t dismiss the capacity of the nuclear village to ram through a ‘back to the future’ scenario."

I do find that rather offensive to assume that the only people who could support nuclear power are those with a direct financial stake in it.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Ken,

    I do find that rather offensive to assume that the only people who could support nuclear power are those with a direct financial stake in it.

    It’s the same twin media biases over and over again: that nuclear power is this parasite that drives its host insane, and that solar power is our saviour. Very often backed up by quotes from…a representative of the solar power industry.

    The media is killing the debate on climate change at the moment by promoting vague fantasies.

  2. The Nuclear Industry

    Cheques are in the post, boys. :wink:

  3. @The Nuclear Industry: I wish, I wish!

    Anyway, on this morning’s paper review, one of the rags had a survey saying 59% supported some form of 原発ゼロ, and 55% were anti-VAT rise.

  4. Off topic, but while we are here; the Japan Times writer who penned that alarmist article this year about the fallout threat to Yokohama (a comment thread topic on here) seems to have been sacked from the JT over a plagiarized book review (see ‘apology’ on page 11, 02/12/12).

  5. Pessoa, shocking news! You buy the Japan Times?

  6. @Pessoa:

    Be nice if they also sacked the editors allowing their contributing columnists to write under pseudonyms when convenient so they don’t have to be objective and cover personal pet issues objectively. (Conflict of interest, anyone?)

    Or their editors that believe that they were prevented from entering bars in the middle of the night and arrested not because they were raging drunk and vandalizing the proprietor’s signs, but because they were the victim of a “Japanese Only” policy.

  7. @havill:

    Ooh, do tell more. I must have missed those two stories.

  8. @VK:

    Ben Stubbings is the Community Editor for the Japan Times. IOW, he’s Debito Arudou’s editor:

    The above article has had the name removed. Way Back Machine to the rescue:

  9. @VK:

    The “Richard Cory” series was written by a once frequent Japan Times article writer who usually published under his real name.

    I promised I wouldn’t out him after I caught him, so you’ll have to do you own detective work there (it isn’t hard). I’m not going to out him because he wasn’t an employee of JT, so I blame his editor for allowing that sort of behavior more than I blame him for doing it.

  10. BTW, that censoring of the news article is a recent thing. The last time I checked his name was still there.

    I find it deliciously ironic that people in the journalism industry are disappearing from digital versions of published news articles.

  11. They even went to the bother of deleting his sister surname as one of the commentings.

  12. @Pessoa: I’m confused – the JT editor wrote the Yokohama story under a pen-name? Or is Ben Stubbings Richard Cory? Who got sacked exactly :?:


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