Ishihara Nob(uteru)

Self-awareness has never been a strong point for any of the Ishiharas but this Yomiuri article was special.

It appears that Ishihara Nobuteru, after utilizing and exhausting all of his available neural complexity, has figured out why the LDP can’t catch any of the many breaks that DPJ rule has offered them. It is the media’s fault. And he wants to establish “a unit to monitor media coverage of the LDP, with a view to lodging objections in response to reports seen as inaccurate or unfair.”

This sentence was most mirthful:

Ishihara, who was the driving force behind the creation of the new unit, apparently considers media criticism of the LDP a key reason for the party’s low support rate, despite the fact that the approval rating for Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Cabinet is also languishing.1

This is certainly a possibility. There is also another one. Academics and specialists in electoral politics have called this the “you suck so, so bad the public would prefer a tranquillized hedgehog” effect.   Consider that the media has had it in for Kan and the DPJ, as has the bureaucracy in Kasumigaseki since day 1. That the DPJ and their cabinets seem to alternate between periods of incompetence and incomprehensible party disunity, especially for a first time ruling party. That both the Chinese and the US have not exactly made things easier in terms of diplomacy for the DPJ. And that economic recession and horrifying natural disasters have characterized the time the ruling party has spent, “ruling.” Despite all of this, less than 20% of the population want to see you and your like return to power.

But, it could be the media.

1 I think this also offers a very telling insight into the minds of many of the LDP’s senior leadership. They must have figured that the public had simply misunderstood them and only through a bit of bad luck were they turfed out (perhaps they believed the bad luck was the recession). Thus, all they had to do was undermine the DPJ and make them look incompetent for long enough and all of a sudden everyone would remember the good old days and come running back to the LDP of old. Such is their belief in their entitlement to rule. So entitled they are some believe, the only possible explanation for the current state of affairs is that something like the media must be at fault for their conundrum. Even if the reality of the situation is completely at odds with a “DPJ-bias” in the media. 


5 thoughts on “Ishihara Nob(uteru)

  1. I’ve said this before at various times, but with all existing parties together enjoying not even the support of half the electorate, sooner or later the party of “none of the above” might coalesce into a real, new alternative. My constant worry is that the new alternative may well turn out to be far right, militaristic and xenophobic; a counterpart to the far-right parties in Europe (or some of the anti-immigrant factions in US politics) but enjoying majority support simply by virtue of being something new and different.

    • It is always possible that a populist in the mould of Koizumi could exploit this kind of situation, but is there not a class dimension to those far-right movements in Europe – taking place against a background of cut backs in welfare services etc? Japan’s Gini co-efficient is getting worse but not to that point. That said, it is interesting to note that some of those politicians doing well at the local level by advocating bombastic, anti-government policies also have pretty hardcore nationalistic thoughts. It may not be a problem if, like Ishihara Shintaro, they stay local politicians, but anything is possible.

      • These parties, and the factors of their rise, is different from country to country. Sweden and Denmark have about the same Gini coefficient as Japan or plenty lower, depending on if you go by UN or CIA estimations. Yet, both have these far-right movements in parliament; in the case of Denmark they’ve been part of government, and have twisted the general political discourse so far to the xenophobic end that all mainstream parties basically subscribe to the main tenets. Nationalist xenophobia has become the new mainstream normal there.

        The British National Front, for instance, seem to draw solidly from the economic bottom of the country. But many other parties draw heavily from the middle classes and from people like independent contractors and small-business owners. People who haven’t lost anything but have plenty to lose, and are fearful of losing it with the world changing ever more rapidly around them. Nationalism and xenophobia is simply a way to take cover, a wish to isolate themselves from a turbulent world. They want to stop the world and get off.

  2. “That said, it is interesting to note that some of those politicians doing well at the local level by advocating bombastic, anti-government policies also have pretty hardcore nationalistic thoughts.”

    There is such a huge gray area to exist in within Japanese Politics and business that is so because the average person is convinced that there is no alternative. America before Watergate…that’s what the current Japanese,Media,Public activism situation reminds me of

    • Interesting insight – it seems to me that this time around the average citizen might well be just pissed off enough to do something about it, either electorally or otherwise. Maybe not 1960s Japan like protests or anything but I get the feeling a lot of people genuinely feel their politicians are taking the piss. Often when that is the case what happens in terms of a society’s direction will depend on who lights the spark and in what situation. I’m less worried about “right” nationalism than some because their social and political program has been discredited as much as any other in the last 15 years. And by history. But there are plenty of other less than helpful things that could happen.

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