Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) suffers acute aphasia, at times

Friday, August 05 2005 @ 06:57 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

Aphasia is a loss or impairment of the ability to produce or comprehend language, due to brain damage. It is usually a result of damage to the language centres of the brain (like Broca's area). These areas are always located in the left hemisphere and in most people this is where the ability to produce and comprehend language is found. However in a very small number of people language ability is found in the right hemisphere. Damage to these language areas can be caused by a stroke or physical injury. Depending on the area and extent of the damage, someone may be able to speak but not write, or vice versa, or understand more complex sentences than he can produce. The brains of young children with brain damage sometimes restructure themselves to use different areas for speech processing, and regain lost function; adult brains are less "plastic" and lack this ability. (From Wikipedia)


On the eve of the planned vote on the "controversial" postal "reform" bills at the House of Councillors, an LDP lawmaker by the name of Yoji Nagaoka hung himself with a tie.

The news broke out at around 12:00 noon on the Net and TV. Since he belonged to an LDP faction led by Shizuka Kamei, former chairman of the LDP's Policy Research Council, who spearheads the intra-party "revolt" against the postal privatization bills, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's pet project, everyone automatically linked his suicide to the fierce infight over these bills.

When the bills for privatization and subsequent splitup of the Japan Post were passed by a narrow margin at the House of Representatives, he double-crossed his faction boss and voted for them because Koizumi, in a last-ditch effort, had put a pressure on the intra-party rebels, threatening that if these bills are voted down at the Upper House, he will immediately dissolve the Diet and that these rebels will have to be prepared for running without the LDP ticket."

Over the weekend he visited his constituency of Ibaraki Prefecture where he, as many speculate, was caught in a cross-fire of criticism for his last-minute about-face.

As this blog has kept arguing in the past, people in their right mind have long been fed up with the Koizumi's misguided preoccupation. It's only the mainstream media that have fanned all the fuss as if people's well-being is at stake in his reform plans.

Without doubt the Japan Post should go through a drastic transformation in order to become a much leaner and more effective organization. But the only way to make that happen is as simple as to halve its employees, at least. It's nothing more than my gut feeling but I'm positive that 100,000 employees will be enough. At present the Japan Post retains more than 270,000 employees at its Tokyo headquarters and 24,000-plus post offices across the nation. (See October 23 TFP story titled "Big consolation to redundant workers".)

That is why I don't think the Koizumi's proposition to privatize and split up the bloated and rigidified organization while guaranteeing job security for these 270,000 people should be taken seriously.

Up until recently, however, not a single word was spoken by the government, lawmakers including those in the anti-reform camp, or the mainstream media to point out that it's nothing more than yet another attempt to distract people's attention from the real issues facing this nation.

Only very recently have the media belatedly started to say maybe both pro- and anti-reform camps are missing the point, as if it wasn't the media that touched off the nationwide futile debate when the LDP inserted the fake reform program into its campaign pledge in 2003.

But as usual that's when things were getting real ugly with the Kamei's faction stepping up its anti-reform bill campaign and the wishy-washy lawmaker committing suicide.

Some LDP insiders have forecast the LDP wouldn't be able to clinch more than 220 seats in the 480-member House of Representatives should a general election take place as a result of the possible resolution of the Diet.

Among other things the worst-case scenario would be Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara's comeback to the arena of national politics because Shizuka Kamei is known to be his closest friend.

Worse, you cannot rule out the likelihood that Ishihara becomes the next Prime Minister of Japan because Kamei is a little more un-telegenic than the current Tokyo Governor, even though he is a look-alike/sound-alike of Ishihara in terms of quality, integrity and intelligence.

But who cares? Just the same Japan will not change, no matter what, as long as it clings to the 1955 System and its "unique" culture that underlies it.

The rotten System that's been in place since the foundation of the Liberal Democratic Party has always gone hand-in-hand with a sub-system called "Kisha Kurabu" (Press Club) system.

In the framework of the infamous sub-system, NHK, the only government-owned broadcaster, has played a major role in maintaining the collusive relations between politicians, including those in the opposition parties, and the media.

In recent years NHK has been known to be one of the most scandal-tainted broadcasters as indicated by the growing number of TV viewers who refuse to pay subscription. (It now stands at more than one million.) But very few people have dared to point out that it's been the main culprit for hypnotizing the Japanese people to mold them into rulers' liking since the 1940s.

Let me get back to the August 1 news about Yoji Nagaoka's suicide here. How did NHK treat the suicide of the feeble congressman?

Answer: It totally neglected the news.

Needless to say the government-run broadcaster is a group of mythomaniacs just like other media organizations. It could have taken advantage of the suicide case to promote its editorial views either for or against the postal reform bills.

Or if NHK is an impartial news provider, as it always claims to be, it certainly shouldn't have neglected the extraordinarily newsworthy story.

My diagnosis: This was an unmistakable case of acute aphasia, psychogenic one. Simply put, that a weak soldier serving the cause of the Kamei's faction killed himself in the midst of the deliberation of the "nation-dividing" bills at the Upper House was too much for the patient to swallow, digest and put into (distorted) perspective. That's why the already sick broadcaster just chose not to take up the story in one way or the other in its news programs.

To my regret, I have no idea about how to fix his pathological problem because this shrink still remains a quack.

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