Tag Archives: election

Japan Times writers had a bit too much sherry this Christmas!

I had a wee click around the JT web site tonight, and here are a few of the gems I found.

1. Christopher Hobson, Ph.D., a research associate at the United Nations University, Tokyo

(First of all, I didn’t know there was a UN Uni in Tokyo.) It’s the usual "the public have spoken, the bastards!", with some choice quotes like:

This led some hopeful pundits to propose that it might even be the beginnings of a Japanese version of the "Arab Spring," in which large protests and active civil society movements could bring about a major political opening.

I’ve seen this mentioned in a few other articles, and I think it’s an amazing insult to the Arab people who laid their lives on the line to enact change within dictatorships, versus in Japan where all they need to do is to turn up at the ballot box for free and fair elections. We had the Japan Communist Party, Tomorrow Party and the Green Wind Party (or did they merge with the TP?) all promising immediate or early decommissioning, and we all know where they ended up. Why didn’t people like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Kenzaburo Oe and all the rest of the big names stand up and support the formation of a party to exploit this "major political opening"?

2. Editorial – 2012: a year of low points

This is utterly atrociously written.

Mr. Shinzo Abe, who was re-elected again

Nope, he’s only been re-elected Prime Minister once, and he’s never been re-elected as leader of the winning party at a general election. The sentence also starts and finishes with the word "December".

After Americans returned Democratic President Barack Obama to a second four-year term, Japanese voters dumped the Democratic Party of Japan for politicians who expressed conservative and hawkish views.

That’s a bit of a non sequitur.

But the election campaign also saw the rise of a new party, Nihon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) under the guidance of Mr. Shintaro Ishihara, who had quit the Tokyo governorship to join Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto at the party’s helm.

That’s quite badly written, and it seems to suggest that the JRP is Ishihara’s party.

The new party seemed set on stirring up confrontation with China and South Korea rather than on actually offering serious solutions to Japan’s problems.

I think you need to get out of the FCCJ and start listening to Japanese sources.

Record lows were also reached this year in other social issues such as bullying, with a doubling of the number of cases reported from the year before.

That seems more like a "record high" to me.

The increase from 70,000 cases of bullying reported at schools in 2011 to 140,000 cases in 2012 may signal a more accurate confrontation with this chronic problem.

What does "signal a more accurate confrontation with this chronic problem" mean?

The Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine went to Japanese scientist Dr. Shinya Yamanaka for his work on pluripotent stem cells.

When I was on holiday this month and watching BBC World in the hotel, I was confused for a moment when they mentioned that Sir John B. Gurdon won that Nobel Prize. I would have expected the Japan Times to note that he was a joint winner.

Furthering the sense of hope, Tokyo Skytree opened to great enthusiasm and huge lines last summer, becoming the second-tallest structure in the world.

Despite problematic behavior by some of the visitors to the new tourist site,

I know it’s a bit picky, but surely noting it is the tallest tower would have been better? And what problematic behaviour? Tell me more! Or is it that the author cannot bring himself to write anything positive without a counter-balance?

The Japan Times would like to wish its readers a prosperous, safe and joyful New Year in 2013.

I don’t know about the first two, but to have a joyful 2013 not reading the JT would be a good first step.

3. This year’s highlights and lowlights

Is the whole country, as the foreign media implies, turning "to the right"?

Full marks for pointing out that it’s the foreign media (I would include JT here) making the noise, although I’d replace "implies" with "states", as there is more often than not no ambiguity.

Picking up on conservatism’s rich entertainment potential, critics applied a punning label to the three most prominent figures of this so-called shift — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and Liberal Democratic Party president Shinzo Abe — dubbing them "Raito Sankyodai,"

Who are these critics? This Google search for "ライト三兄弟" 橋下 石原 安倍 returns only five hits, neither relevant.

Hashimoto was genuinely incensed by a magazine article that tried to explain his psychological evolution as a public figure, but which he interpreted as a concerted attempt to connect him "genetically" to social undesirables.

The author of this article has previously defended the Asahi and their accusation of criminal DNA, but the JT has also printed a more neutral report on the Asahi’s apology.

4. As the new year approaches, Japan still reels from 2011

His Osaka Ishin no Kai (literally Osaka Restoration Society) grew into the Nippon Ishin no To (Japan Restoration Party).

It’s pretty sad that no-one in the editing process noticed that JRP is also a Kai, not a To.

Can Japan be "reset"? Hashimoto’s plans for doing so include abolishing the Diet’s Upper House, giving local governments more power and having the prime minister elected directly instead of, as now, appointed by the leading party.

But, I read in an article above that his plans were:

  1. Invade China and both Koreas
  2. ???
  3. PROFIT!

Furthermore, the Prime Minister is elected by the lower house.

In mid-August seven activists from Hong Kong landed on one of the Senkaku Islands claimed held by Japan, but also claimed by China (the Chinese call them Diaoyu). Five were arrested and deported. Days later, a dozen Japanese nationalists of the rightwing group Gambare Nippon swam ashore from a 20-boat flotilla and raised the Hinomaru flag.

I’ve talked before about the bias here of "activists" versus "nationalists", and there is no mention of the flags the Chinese carried.

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.