Hashism v Gomanism

“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Making sense of Hashimoto is becoming harder and harder as time goes on. On the one hand with his recent obsessions regarding tattooed Osaka city council workers he has started to make himself look like the dictatorial hypocrite that some claimed that he was, or at least fulfilled the expectation that he would be far too full of himself to walk back an obviously badly conceived policy.

It also made him look less like the politically astute operator many believed him to be. It is one thing for your opponents to use what you have done against you to paint you as something you may not be – but walking into a narrative trap (“fascist,” or “intemperate” or whatever) clearly laid out before you seemingly without hesitation is pretty boneheaded.

On the other hand the “defeat” that Hashimoto suffered at the hands of the DPJ government over the Oi nuclear reactor restart reflected upon Hashimoto in a different way: Hashimoto admitted his defeat in this war of the wills and even went as far as to “withdraw” the declaration of war on the DPJ government he had put forward earlier on in the debate about the restart of the reactor, arguing that he was indeed intemperate in making such an announcement – it should only be used as a once in a lifetime resort. I suppose this implies that he is going to break it out again if need be.

What to make of this? Is this a new “flexible” side of Hashimoto coming out? Are his advisors having an impact by counseling him over the types of battles he chooses? Did he realize that the DPJ was trying to drive him into a corner in order to take the wrath of a hot and bothered Osaka during the peak of a summer of brownouts? Or that he had been called on insincere populism? Time will tell I guess. Whatever the correct interpretation it was a rough last couple of weeks for the Osaka Mayor.

But if we are to judge one by their enemies, then the hatred of Hashimoto that fills the infamous cultural fascist, revisionist pseudo-historian, and Sino-Korean provocateur-supreme Kobayashi Yoshinori  (plenty more adjectives could apply) suggests that Hashimoto should rest a little easy. Let us list the ways that Kobayashi hates (日) Hashimoto so, according to the Shuukan Bunshun:

Kobayashi first starts off with the claim that in his 20 years of ‘commentating’ or ‘debating’ issues of apparent national importance (sarcasm should be noted) that he has never seen anyone as infantile as Hashimoto Toru.

He calls him a “fraudulent” patriot.

He is particularly concerned about his lack of reverence for the Japanese emperor. He criticizes him for his wanting Osaka to be considered a 都 (tou). This is not for any administrative or political reason –  Kobayashi argues that such a designation should only be reserved for the city in which the emperor resides, and to expect otherwise is churlish.  

He does have Hashimoto up about his over-eagerness in pursuing teachers who do not stand for the Japanese national anthem and pay appropriate respect for the flag.

Here however his critique is not motivated by some profound  respect for democracy. Nope again,  its about the emperor, particularly the current one who is one record as having said it would be nice if people showed patriotism without being coerced.

He is against the TPP, which is something that Hashimoto has said Japan needs to consider if it wants to internationalize its economy. For Kobayashi the problem is essentially that the TPP would destroy the unique rice-producing nation that was a gift from the gods, and now ruled by an unbroken line of divine emperors. Add in some stuff about an economy being dependent on foreign consumption being bad and potentially turning Japan into Korea.

Kobayashi then makes some vague but more coherent points about neoliberal economic policies undermining the Japanese economy and driving societal inequality through promoting the survival of the fittest. He cites the current global financial crisis as proof of that.

[Essentially he is critical of Hashimoto's fondness for some of the Koizumi administration's policies, although to be fair to Hashimoto there are some areas where is actually pro-public investment so may differ from the Koizumi crowd in some crucial ways. Hashimoto, after all, has been rather reluctant to be too closely associated with Watanabe Yoshimi's Your Party.]

Kobayashi hates Hashimoto’s populism in regards to anti-nuclear movements around the country. He thinks Hashimoto taking on academics and criticizing bureaucrats who criticize Hashimoto is nothing more than a child’s quarrel. He hates how he dismisses people like Kobayashi as precocious brats. And he thinks this kind of behaviour is putting a wall between politicians and the citizenry.

It is true that Hashimoto is somewhat immature in his dismissiveness of people who criticize him, and while good for entertainment probably does not endear him to people he may have to work with in the future. Nevertheless critical debate like this is for Kobayashi the antithesis of democracy (if directed against him anyway). The final paragraph is worth reproducing in fall:

Experts and mass media journalists who praise Hashimoto, who is on par with childish dictators like Kim Jong-Eun, and his determination to break through entrenched interests by embracing a decisive politics (or more accurately, a politics that can make decisions), are all idiots. We may as well just give up on democracy and yell “banzai,” “comrade,” and “Hashimoto-shogun” (ie  military dictator) just like they do in North Korea!

Serious stuff as you can see.

Kamei Shizuka and the knife-edge of WTF?

Kamei Shizuka’s proposal to create a third “pole” in Japanese politics, as so many have tried over the last few years, should be praised – if he can gather enough of the fossilized political retro-conservative retreads into one party then that would be a valuable indication of who not to vote for in any future election. Meaning people could vote without fear of electing some throwback along with, er, ‘normal’ politicians. Now if we can only get someone like Matsumoto Ryu to form a party of retro-socialists we could be in business.

I have thank Watanabe Yoshimi for so quickly confirming (ja) that I hadn’t been misreading the local politics scene over the last year. Apparently in addition to Ishihara Shintaro, and Tachiagare Nippon’s Hiranuma Takeo, and a number of others, Kamei had his sights on recruiting possibly soon to be Osaka Mayor’s Hashimoto Toru. From what I understand Hashimoto does not exactly have liberal views on some issues, security ones in particular, but joining up with that lot smelled too much of “dumbest political move ever” for my liking. As Watanabe points out, Hashimoto’s confidence that Japan can and should openly compete in a globalized world kind rules him out as a retro-conservative.

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. 

Japan to start exporting arms by 2012?

I have a post up at Japan Security Watch looking at a report that was released yesterday that argues for a relaxation of the current arms export restrictions Japan has.

In other news, go here for a good concise run down of ex-Reconstruction Minister Matsumoto Ryu’s weirdness.

For those who are not well disposed towards reading, here is PressTV’s report on the situation. Includes Koizumi Shinjiro FWIW.

The LDP’s least insufferable member Kono Taro has been suspended from all executive LDP party positions for about one year. The LDP senior leadership has been suggesting again the possibility of a “grand coalition,”  with the DPJ to extend its life, which along with the situation around the Hamada expulsion, and the suspensions/punishment of those that voted to extend the Diet session like Kono, is likely to lead to tension in the party.  As suggested before, the LDP could be in for a rough period – discussions about party reform, including the killing off of party factions for once and for all, has seemingly stalled and senior party officials nixed the idea. The party has committed to reconsidering its policy on nuclear power, but who knows if that is genuine or a temporary measure to placate the public and/or those interested in renewable energy within the party.  Time will tell. In fact the party couldn’t even come to an agreement on whether to make the LDP building a no-smoking area – an internal party decision was overturned by its Vice-President Oshima who was having none of that.

It would be worthy of derision, if it wasn’t for the equally sad and significantly more consequential problems the ruling DPJ is facing as a party.

Update: Japan has indeed since subsequently relaxed the restrictions on arms’ exports. Please see here for detailed background, and here for translation of, and commentary on, the document.

A stroll down the anti-Ozawa "street"?

I found this mildly amusing but not surprising.

The new building for DPJ assembly persons is going to have a clear pro-Ozawa level (including the “Ozawa girls”) and anti-Ozawa level or “streets” as called in the article.
I see Mieko Tanaka made the cut, but cannot locate one of my (and Our Man’s) other favourites, Kumiko Hayakawa. Perhaps she is budding up to the PM a bit too much.
The article very ‘astutely’ speculates that people who have criticised Ozawa in the past may have have been banished to some of the outer realms of the building!