The news from 3rd June is that Kan is still the Japanese Prime Minister, and yet won’t be much longer, having been fatally wounded by members of his own party more than the opposition in an attempted palace coup that left the king on the throne, but with a fatal injury that will see one of his princes on the hot seat within months. But that isn’t quite enough for the ‘Young Turks’ (this being Japan, with its ageing society, the Young Turks are older than the incumbent) who want him out in weeks.
Internationally, Japan and the Japanese are renowned for many qualities. Diligence, honesty, community, consensus, and the ability to unite and work toward common goals through adversity. That being so, it appears that Japan is a colony of another nation. This nation is not the USA or China, but ‘seijika’, the politicians who have ruled this land since the emperor and military gave up the ghost in 1945, or at least since the Americans decided they didn’t want to directly rule 100 million Japanese anymore in 1952. They seem to share few common traits with the people they rule, other than an outward appearance and some similarity of language. The oddest thing is that this Japanese colony elects its own imperial masters, with all the trappings of a true democracy, but for most of the past six decades the people who have ended up ruling have been so different from those ruled, and have treated the electors with such disdain, that one can only imagine that there is another ura (hidden, closet) constitution. This surely has such articles as ‘personal power shall take priority over public good’ and ‘corruption will never be tolerated, where it can be absolutely proven, in public, and widely discussed, unless there is a very good excuse’, as otherwise how would the system follow such predictable patterns?
The basic story has been that Kan faced a no-confidence vote that was tabled by some opposition parties (mainly the LDP, old ruling party, and Komeito, old, small scale ruling coalition partner of the LDP) on 2nd June. This was discussed in the Diet, with massive media speculation until the evening of 3rd, and from the time that Kan survived the vote, with a very comfortable majority, the news has been hysterical with tales of betrayal, deceit, accusations of being ‘a crook’ (from the previously mild-mannered former PM Hatoyama towards Kan) and all the rest.
Kan looked very shaky on 2nd June, as his old enemy Ozawa Ichiro (of his same party, but pushed out of power in yet another money scandal, which have continued to surround Ozawa for the last 25 years) seemed to not only welcome the LDP motion, but also may have instigated it. Ozawa began to call up his troops and sympathizers and it looked as though Kan would be unemployed by the morrow. Among those seemingly ready to support the motion were Hatoyama, formerly Kan’s supporter, but also indebted to Ozawa for allowing him to become PM, and a few junior government ministers. By the 3rd, Kan was safe, as he had brokered a deal, through Edano, and Okada (Ch. Cabinet Secretary and DPJ General-Sec. respectively), in that he agreed to step down ‘after some time’, when things had been stabilised after the Tohoku quake crises.
Now, that seemingly half-decent position has been reduced to a semi-prone crouch, as Hatoyama has come back with the accusation that Kan agreed to go after the next budget (in a month or so) while Kan is now saying that he will go after the Dai-ichi plant crisis has been stabilised, which could be the end of this year, or early next year. Cue media maelstrom, accusations and counter-accusations, intense examination of what the phrase ‘iteinomedo’ actually means (great language Japanese, as even the native speakers have a loose grasp of key phrases), with some indicating it means ‘after sufficient time’ while others indicating it meant ‘after a brief interval’.
Two DPJ members and Ozawa acolytes have been kicked out of the party for supporting the no-confidence motion, while the O himself was absent, so escaped censure, even though he was the one who arranged this whole fiasco. It is easy to see why Ozawa has broken up every party and every government he has been a member of. As my grandmother would say, “he’d cause trouble in an empty house!” Hatoyama voted against the motion, despite saying he would support it, and the opposition are sitting with gaping jaws wondering if they should join in this oddest of bar brawls, or just sit this one out for now.
What the media and politicians appear to have missed completely is the real story. Japan is facing an unprecedented post-war crisis, its economy is badly stalled, it has huge previous debts, requires massive investment, and Moody’s rating agency has down-graded Japan to the same level as Italy and may drop its rating even further, indicating that this is partly due to the political situation. The reconstruction work has not begun, thousands are living in appalling conditions, many have no basic facilities, thousands cannot return to their homes due to radiation fears, many of them as internally displaced people, or domestic refugees, and the Dai-ichi crisis recovery timetable is slipping further behind with each week. So, the best thing to do is argue who should be in charge and get the big, comfy chair. The crew are fighting over who should wear the Captain’s cap on the bridge of the Titanic, while many others are trying to stuff as many silver tea spoons in their pockets as possible.
And the colonized Japanese just get on with their lives and go to work and pay their taxes and hope that tomorrow will be better.
As for the nuclear crisis, Julian has sent along a link to a typical letter in The Guardian. Typical, as it decries the loss of interest on the part of media in the Dai-ichi crisis and the very real hardships being faced by people in Japan. What it also does is exaggerate the degree of devastation, damage, and worldwide implications, with ‘streams of iodine, caesium’ etc raining down all over the world. While correct, it fails to indicate that these streams are nothing compared to the streams that have continued to fall on us due to nuclear weapon tests all over the world over preceding decades. Also, while we all consider radiation to be terribly dangerous, as it is, we don’t look similarly upon car exhaust fumes, coal power station pollution, and other phenomena that also lead to deaths, illness, and environmental destruction. Nuclear power is not ‘green’ as some claim, but can only seem so when the risks of leaks and the problems of spent fuel are discounted, which is rather akin to calling diesel engines green if discounting the gases and particles produced. http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2011/may/24/letters
In other news, Andy, residing in idyllic rural Norfolk has sent a link to a story in the Daily Heil, sorry Daily Mail, that is an alarmist story about foreign invaders terrorising British God-fearing souls. Sadly, the miscreants are not asylum seekers or jihadists, but a pair of alligators which have found their way into a lake near Andy. Having visited the area, with its lovely pubs and very flat land, it seems unlikely, but the Daily Mail has proof. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393797/Two-alligators-run-Norfolk-holiday-park.html
Deadly reptiles terrorising unsuspecting citizens! What would Ozawa make of it all?