This weekend’s blood pressure-testing articles

First, Eric Johnson in the Japan Times on Osaka versus the Tokyo election, filed under “news”. It’s quite interesting that he manages to get through the whole article without mentioning Inose, nor what’s-his-name JCP lawyer person:

In one corner of the campaign, we have former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, considered a moderate but, in reality, a conservative who, prior to March 11, 2011, argued for nuclear power. Since then (surprise, surprise) he has kept rather quiet.

That “(surprise, surprise)” seems out of place in a news article. However, Koizumi was also pro-nuclear before 3/11, was he not? Furthermore, Wikipedia says Masuzoe has been talking about nuclear power, but perhaps no-one was listening in November 2012 when he said:


Moving on to a Twitter account that appears to most people to be an official Japan Times spokesperson, I see this comment that I rate as more offensive than the ANA bignose commercial:

What a shit place to waste what’s left of your life> Koreans Fights NYC McDonald’s for the Right to Sit. – NYTimes


Finally, we have our old favourite, Japan Focus and the appropriately-entitled “Spinning the Tokyo Metro Election“. This article also fails to mention Kenji Utsunomiya (I Googled him rather than repeating what’s-his-name), but features the “Nuclear Village” as shorthand for “I hate the LDP”. I had a chuckle at this spin:

The favourite talking point for opponents of the Hosokawa-Koizumi tag team – as it were – has been to emphasize that Hosokawa received a loan (apparently fully paid back) from the firm Sagawa Kyubin during his term as prime minister and must explain this.

Unfortunately, space prevented him for mentioning that the reason there is an election in the first place is that Inose received an apparently fully paid back loan without explaining it.

And to bring us right back to the first story again, there is a footnote pointing to the article on this statement:

The party is officially committed to the very right-wing candidate and historical revisionist Tamogami Toshio, but it seems that much of the membership is turning toward Hosokawa.

He’s not the official candidate, and Mr Johnson said nothing about the relative numbers favouring Hosokawa versus Masuzoe.

Leave a comment ?


  1. @Ken Y-N:

    That survey in the Washington Post article should find its merry way onto university research methods courses as an exercise for students to critique/hack to pieces. None of the people involved appear to have any experience of this kind of research. It appeared to be set up to produce a pro anti-nuclear result, but it could easily have simply been the result of hubris-fuelled incompetence.

    By the way, via JapanProbe, it’s good to see someone call a spade a spade and accuse David McNeill in public of journalistic malpractice.

  2. Ken on the phone

    @VK: Perhaps I could start a sweepstake to guess how long until that research gets referenced on Japan Focus? I’ll take February 10th – I guess journalists, as well as the JF writers, have already started on Hosogawa’s political obituary.

  3. On the Mainichi poll: 50% for Utsunomiya, 44% for Tamogami. But more importantly…

    The issues I disagree with Utsunomiya on (nuclear power being a big one), I really disagree with him on.

    The issues I disagree with Tamogami on (size of the Olympics, giving schoolbook approval authority to the governor or mayor, casinos) I don’t care as much about.

    I would not want to see Casinos in Tokyo, or anywhere for that matter, but its not that big a deal to me if Tokyo has them or not. On other issues where Tamogami and I responded differently, I would be interested in hearing his rationale. Maybe he can bring something to the table that I don’t know.

    But “scrap all the reactors now” Utsunomiya? No. They should be turned back on, not scrapped, unless they are old and/or unsafe, in which case scrap them and build new ones.

  4. KT88 (A stern but kind Dutch uncle and occasional shark eater))

    @The Jumped Shark: Wow! 真似られた! I would have been flattered had you tried… Then I realised you did.

    I shouldn’t have to say it, likely you’ve heard it from your parents and teachers over the years but anyway: You could go really far if only you applied yourself.

  5. So: according to an exit poll in Asahi, Masuzoe got more than Hosokawa and Utsunomiya combined across every single age group.

    Although the turnout was historically low, it wasn’t the lowest ever, and compared to mayoral elections in other comparable cities (New York, London, Toronto) and the weather conditions likely had an impact.

    Tamogami came a very clear fourth, despite support from Ishihara and Ishin no kai. Most people are not interested in his brand of politics. (However, he resonates proportionately more with young people than older people.)

    I think there are two things we can learn from this. First of all, there is no conspiracy keeping the anti-nuclear majority from the levers of power. The vote wasn’t split by letting in the nuclear candidate. All the opinion polls prior to the election showed that it was not the top priority for people.

    Secondly, the indulgent myth that Japanese politics would be more liberal if only young people were in charge instead of all these old codgers blocking them looks suspect. Tamogami gets proportionately more votes from the young. As it happens, the top four candidates in order of age (old to young) are Hosokawa, Utsunomiya, Tamogami, Masuzoe.

    Apart from that, I thought this was interesting:

  6. Meanwhile, over in Metropolis, apparently VK has written an ode to the joys of shopping

  7. Oh dear.

    Service in Japan has become so robotic that it’s hard to imagine having a real conversation with a shop assistant—and believe me I’ve tried. Having done more than my fair share of menial service jobs, and knowing how dull they can be, I assumed that staff here would appreciate the occasional little chit chat or joke, but most of my attempts have fallen very flat indeed, usually prompting just a blank stare or even a look of panic. Gaijin panic, perhaps, but also a sad indicator that there isn’t much room for maneuver in the straightjacket such a tightly scripted intercourse imposes.

    “Why don’t people laugh at my jokes? It’s because they all have their sense of humour trained out of them, that’s why.”

    In a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, a chilling phenomenon usually attributed to the feelings of isolation experienced by many, you would hope that a greater value would be placed on real human contact. I wonder how many lonely people in other countries are sustained by that five-minute chat with the landlord of their local pub or brief gossip with the man in the post office or local librarian.

    I don’t think he’s been back to the UK for the past 20 years. But yes, let’s pretend that Japan has – historically – a high suicide rate because modern-day shop assistants have high pitched voices.

  8. “Robotic” service- another tired (going on 20 years, at least)complaint of anglos* applying their cultural norms to another country. At least I know I’ll get consistent service when I order that hamburger or have my order ringed up at the super, rather than having to deal with the emotional randomness (either annoying chattiness or dismal indifference) of cashiers “back home”. If I want to have a chitchat with others outside my social circle, I’ll frequent the local izakaya or go to the hair salon more often.

    * I figure most whiners are American, note the recent U.S. olympic press comments of Russians being “unsmiling and glum”, rather than all smiles, happiness, and wanting to be your best buddy, like healthy ‘murikuns. :???:

  9. Apparently using typical ‘Japanese words and phrases’ too much sucks the life out of them. Unlike “Hello, Can I help you?”, which sounds as fresh as junior high school girl’s vagina every time you hear it.

  10. @VK: It’s interesting that Masuzoe topped Hosokawa and Utsunomiya combined in all age groups. I suppose I should be crowing about it being a victory for nuclear power, once we add all the non-voters to Tamogawa’s score. :roll:

  11. @Ken Y-N:

    I wonder how this latest and probably clearest signal that the electorate is not actually a suppressed seething mass of intense anti-nuclear feeling is going to be spun. Michael Cucek has gone with “barely more than the votes of the two anti-nuclear candidates combined” line (so, as Ken says, add Tamogami to the pro-nuclear tally :headdesk: ). Adelstein’s gone, along with mentioning the (of course, horrible) sexist comments and with “Masuzoe looks like a horse with mange” and also entirely the wrong turnout figure (whoops).

    I really don’t like the idea of Masuzoe as governor, but the other non-lunatic candidates have the wrong idea on the biggest issue facing us.

  12. @VK:

    Anyway you try to slice it, the biggest issue is the precarious state of the collapsed power plant reactors and the health of the local populace.

    Don’t believe in this myopic 安全神話

    This is the big issue facing Japan now.

  13. @L A Zlo:

    If we’re talking about issues outside the direct remit of the Tokyo governor, then yes, I’d agree that the welfare of people in the region, especially the evacuees, is a top priority (although global warming is still the biggest issue facing all of us.)

    I’d also say that one of the big challenges is fighting against an anti-nuclear movement that has as one of its incidental goals obstructing the recovery of the region, and which has displayed supreme indifference to the actual health problems of the population caused by our reaction to the Fukushima accident. They fight to transform what should be science-based decisions about safety levels and evacuee returns into political decisions. They unfortunately have a need for other people to suffer in order to validate their politics.

    I don’t buy into any safety myth. I started learning seriously about radiation and health because there’d been a very nasty accident at a nuclear plant. I just buy into arithmetic. It’s pretty much certain that more people will have their lives shortened by the burning of coal each and every year in Japan than will ever have their lives shortened by radiation from the Fukushima accident, and there are thousands of people who should be allowed to return to their homes but currently are not.

    The situation in the plant is certainly precarious in terms of the management of leaks into the local water table and efforts to limit the geographic effects of that, and in terms of the protection of workers involved. Unfortunately, the anti-nuclear movement is using this to try to kill off the fishing industries on either side of the pacific, not because we need to protect fish stocks (which would be laudable) but because they need to scare people with cancer in order to validate their politics.

    In the end, I really don’t like to see ideologues play around with people’s lives like this.

  14. @VK:

    I really couldn’t stand how (especially Western) media gave Utsunomiya a sentence as an “anti-nuclear candidate” in long Hosokawa pieces when he is much more than a sham one issue candidate.

    Also, making a prefectural election out to be a referendum on nuclear power was dumb. Perhaps Tokyoites have other issues they’re thinking about?


    I always wonder where people get this confidence that it’s not them, but an entire occupation. … and I’ve always found shop clerks to make small talk anyways, so no idea (although it sometimes starts with “where are you from?”, which could be another article).

  15. @beneaththewheel:

    What’s interesting is people questioning whether or not Japan is a genuine democracy on the grounds that the electorate has different priorities to the ones the liberal chattering classes tell them they should have.

  16. Philip Patrick is just upset that he can’t pick up the girls running the register at the local conbini where he does all his shopping, right?

  17. That Metropolis thread is a hot heaving mess of cultural confusion!

  18. I think we can guess what pseudonym iLD is using over on the Metro site.

    Anywho, Cities are noisy places. Just wear your ear-buds everywhere so you can drown-out any unwanted noise. They drown-out just enough noise so it’s not dangerous and you can listen to cooool Jazz while walking the streets of Tokyo. I recommend Erik Truffaz or Nils Petter Molvaer. I’m sure ilD would agree, the Jazz genre is a suitable genre for walking the streets of the greatest city in Japan.

    This clown has forgotten what service is like in the west. Some snot-faced kid chatting to her coworker or on the phone isn’t abnormal in Canada. I’ll choose the impeccable Japanese service in Japan over western service any day.

    More problems solved, thank you. United Nations, hello? United Nations?

  19. KT88 (The squeaky, elongated nasal vowel)

    @Greg: Pfft! You don’t get it, man. Like them Japuhneezez – don’t they know elongated vowels are just impolite? I feel personally threatened – and not just at a micro level – by the aggressive wall of white noise that is a nasal voice. Lord spare me, my soul is in flames when I ride the train, even… “次は…” OMG, orz Japan, youz just not right!

    Thank god the mechropolus folk are getting it right, after all, everyone noes them Japerneezez can’t speak. They squeak!


  20. @KT88 (The squeaky, elongated nasal vowel): He’s a fucking dick-head. A miserable prick lashing out at all the wrong things. It’s not going to change because you/I or that guy is winging about it. It’s a part of their culture. I hate all lot of things. I hate people discussing sport like it’s foreign policy or money. God I hate when people discuss money in public, it’s so uncouth. What can I do about it but wear ear-buds. I recommend the Klipsch s4i’s if your on a budget. I digress, he needs to go home. Expat life isn’t for him. It requires tolerance and an open-mind.

  21. These guys. If they’re overwhelmed by the culture – but most likely it’s the state of their lives and that is a form of scapegoating. Carve out some space for yourself by any means necessary. The Japanese are under incredible pressures. They have little personal time and they live on top off one another in three gen homes and some how they carve out space for themselves. Do the same, Jesus.


Leave a Comment

NOTE - You can use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>