Just in Case You Still Expect These Villains to Revive Japan
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.
- Charles MacKay
|PRECAUTION: You may want to watch the audio-visual treat embedded here before you read my text explaining the background of these events. 2 minutes and 23 seconds into this video, you will see 143 people taking turns to shake hands with a man who looks like a stuffed panda with glasses. But don't mistake them for kids on a school excursion to Hong Kong Disneyland. They are lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan.|
Actually I have exhausted my limited vocabulary to describe the terminally ill society which used to be my home country. Yet I have been so disturbed by all this fuss the country's new administration has been making, that I felt an urge to reiterate, one last time, my views of the widespread delusion that Japan is undergoing a dramatic change both at home and abroad.
In fact, Japan goes round in circles and remains an unviable nation. It still shows weak vital signs but that is simply because the United States, its almost equally sick ally, doesn't have the guts to pull the plug on Japan's life-support system. To be more precise, it's a mutual support system embodied in the 50-year-old bilateral treaty.
Take the issue with the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station for example. Some experts say Japan's new prime minister is bringing about a positive change because he has the guts to say "No" to his American counterpart and that will help put Japan on an equal footing with the U.S. for the first time.
On the other hand some others fear that because of Hatoyama's "defiant" attitude toward America, the bilateral relations are turning sour with the frustration quickly mounting on the part of the U.S.
Despite the ostensible contention between the two camps, however, there is a consensus. Every pundit or scholar thinks things are changing, either for the better or for the worse.
But ordinary people are a little smarter than political analysts; they are sober-minded enough to tell that there's nothing new in the recent discord between the incongruous partners. They know the two countries are too much addicted to each other to think about breaking up before death do them part.
Results of polls also seem to indicate people are divided over the relocation issue, but they know deep inside that these unaudited survey results are largely fabricated. In fact, most respondents, if there actually were some in these phony surveys, didn't give a damn to something to be likened to a marital dispute in their neighborhood.
The successive Japanese leaders have had one thing in common; in the face of a crisis or dilemma they invariably became paralyzed like a spider in thanatosis and let things drift until the problem solved itself.
Among other postwar examples, Ichiro Hatoyama, grandpa of the current prime minister and the 6th postwar prime minister himself, was an especially skillful procrastination artist. When signing the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration, the weak-kneed Hatoyama agreed to shelve the dispute over the Northern Territories as if he didn't know that in diplomacy, the right timing, once missed, would never come back.
When it came to the U.S.-Japanese relations, Ichiro Hatoyama was known for his tendency to act defiantly at times toward his American counterpart, Dwight D. Eisenhower. But he never really meant it; he just pouted to attract attention from his patron. That is particularly evident from the fact that he served as the first prime minister under the 1955 System from the CIA-funded Liberal Democratic Party. It never crossed his mind to make Japan a genuinely independent country.
Obviously, it's these defective characteristics, especially irresoluteness and lack of clear vision, that Yukio Hatoyama has inherited from his grandfather. The prime minister keep wavering between the 2006 bilateral accord about the relocation of the air station and his campaign pledge to negate it. But everyone knows the media-salient Futenma rift is fake.
Domestically, his administration has launched an all-out exercise to cut back on expenditures already funded in the extra budget for fiscal 2009. Encouraged by the support from the media, the prime minister is "mercilessly" chopping "wasteful spending," as if there can be anything which is not wasteful in this wasted country.
Here again, Japanese people at large are not really interested in the outcome of the ongoing cutback exercise. Reasons:
■ As a result of the recent revelations that Hatoyama himself is a habitual tax evader, he has lost the moral authority, totally and for good.
■ The prime minister has repeatedly said there should be no sacred cows, but people know there are many, in fact. Just for one thing the Emperor, his kin and their servants get paid an annual JPY17.5 billion, or USD195 million, for doing absolutely nothing.
■ The government finances have already been bankrupt for quite a while. Just killing dozen projects for bridges to nowhere doesn't make a bit of difference.
Ichiro Ozawa, for one, certainly knew that it would be useless if he bothered to save some expenses on his pet projects such as one to build a bridge to the People's Republic of China. On December 10, the de facto leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan visited Hu Jintao in Beijing, out of the blue and without any specific agenda to discuss with the Chinese leader.
As if to show off the party coffers packed with a handsome amount of loot, Ozawa took along with him a cortege of 626 people, which included 143 Diet members from the DPJ. As you can see in the video embedded at the top of this post, every lawmaker privileged with the honor of shaking hands and trying his/her pronunciation of ni hao, for up to 3 seconds, with the benevolently smiling Hu looked like a child posing before a camera alongside of a man in a giant panda suit at Hong Kong Disneyland. Just imagine what if Nancy Pelosi took along more than hundred highly-paid congressmen to China just to let them do the same thing.
You don't have to be Japanese-literate to comprehend Ozawa's message in the video because it was just a syrupy nothing about furthering the Sino-Japanese relations at all levels. (The same holds true with Hatoyama fielding questions from the press corps in Bali, Indonesia. He was basically saying that if the investigators can fully establish their case against him, he is willing to return the loot - so take it easy.)
You may think the Secretary General of the DPJ was laying the groundwork for the "East Asia Community," if you don't know Hatoyama's absurd initiative has already been shrugged off by East Asian leaders as unrealistic and meaningless. If you know that, you certainly think the organizer of the DPJ-wide picnic is an idiot.
True, that's exactly what he is. But at the same time, he is the most unscrupulous bandit in Japan's political world who makes other lawmakers look like small-time thieves.
He learned his modus operandi from Kakuei Tanaka, the particularly scandal-tainted prime minister (1972-74) and the founder of the most powerful and corrupt intra-LDP faction called Etsuzan-kai, as his henchman No. 1.
In 1972 Ozawa's former boss normalized diplomatic ties with the communist China and subsequently renounced the Treaty of Taipei. At that time Tanaka was criticized by many for hastily recognizing the communist regime, although business leaders were all supportive about his plan.
The bottomline of Tanaka's ill-intended decision, as it appears 37 years later, is that it no longer makes any sense to talk about the fate of Japan without taking China's into account - and vice versa. In other words, Tanaka brought about added difficulties to the country which had already been suffering from serious problems inherent to it. But he didn't care too much about the national interests because he was solely driven by personal greed.
Likewise, Ozawa's moves, more often than not, look purposeless from the perspective of national interests. Everything Tanaka's most loyal disciple does clicks only when you take into account what's in it for him, financially. Although the Beijing excursion looked purposeless on the surface, it was, in fact, purposeful.
As you can see here, Japan hasn't changed a bit from Ichiro Hatoyama to Yukio Hatoyama, and from Kakuei Tanaka to Ichiro Ozawa. Equally noteworthy in this respect is the fact that the immediate successor to Shigeru Yoshida, Taro Aso's grandfather and the docile pet of Douglas MacArthur, was Yukio Hatoyama's grandfather. Apparently, this is no coincidence.
The last question I asked myself before virtually quitting Japanese citizenship was: "What exactly has made the Japanese people so change-resistant?" The answer can be found everywhere.
Satoshi Ikeuchi, for one, writes in his commentary titled Paucity of Japan Hands Vexes Japan-U.S. Ties that "the Japanese model represents the way a nation-state should be."
The professor of Islamic political thought at Tokyo University and visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington thinks, "Japan policy experts in the United States, who are unable to predict the path Japanese politics will follow, tend to fall easily into the habit of denouncing the Japanese decision-making process as irrational and labeling Japan as a bankrupt state whose policy-implementing institutions have broken down."
The mentally-retarded professor of the prestigious Tokyo University attributes the "misperception" on the part of the Americans in part to paucity of Japan hands. But here he is turning the causal relationship upside down. The paucity is the result, not the cause.
At the end of his op-ed, Ikeuchi boldly puts the rest of the blame on the Americans for their inability to appreciate the Japan-particular open-ended way of doing things. In short, Ikeuchi believes his country is prone to being misunderstood because it's an ideal democracy. How many exclamation marks do I have to put here?
In this piece I didn't intend to say Hatoyama should do this or Ozawa shouldn't do that, to rectify all these problems facing Japan at home and abroad. On the surface it looks as though these racketeers have inflicted unrepairable damages on this country, but actually it's not them, but individual citizens at all levels that doomed Japan to ruin.
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