It was "another fake dawn" in 1993 - What's next? - And then?

Friday, November 23 2012 @ 02:52 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

It turned out to be another fake dawn. The electoral changes did not go far enough to make a difference. The opposition leaders wasted their energies fighting among themselves. Outside the LDP, Ozawa was unable to spread enogh money around to get things done and keep his party members happy. In 1994, the LDP was back in power in coalition with , of all parties, the socialists. By 1997, Ozawa and his fellow rebels against the LDP were finished..
- Inventing Japan - 1853-1964 by Ian Buruma, 2003.


Part of Chojuu Jinbutsu Giga
After desperately clinging to power for 62 weeks, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda finally succumbed to the pressure for his virtual resignation. Pressure from whom? None other than himself.

On November 16, he dissolved the Lower House, knowing his Democratic Party of Japan would never come back to power again. The all-too-familiar political turmoil had already started a couple of months earlier.

The Japanese are now witnessing deja vu of the "political realignment" of 1993 where "new" parties mushroomed, existing parties renamed themselves, and split up into two or more, merged with others, while dozens of lawmakers made party-hopping back and forth from one party to another.

As of today, there are at least 14 political parties as you can see below:

Party NameName of Party HeadPersonal Profile
Democratic Party of JapanYoshihiko NodaCurrent Prime Minister
Liberal Democratic PartyShinzo AbeGrandson of Nobusuke Kishi. Prematurely stepped down as PM in Sept. 2007 when he mentally collapsed.
Komei-to (Political arm of the legitimized cult Soka Gakkai)Natsuo YamaguchiWK
WK-AIchiro OzawaChampion of party-hopping
Your PartyYoshimi WatanabeSon of former Finance Minister
WK-BShintaro IshiharaQuit the high-paying job of Tokyo Governor in October to collect a handsome amount of retirement allowance.
Japan Communist PartyKazuo ShiiYet to wake up from the dream of the Cold War era.
Social Democratic PartyMizuho FukushimaDitto
WK-CWKWK
WK-DShozaburo JimiAn old stakeholder in Japan Post before its privatization by Bush's order.
WK-EMuneo SuzukiServed 17-month-term in jail
WK-FYoichi MasuzoeFormerly 2nd-rate university professor
WK-GTakashi KawamuraWK
WK-HYasuo TanakaFormer Governor of Nagano Prefecture
NOTE: WK signifies "Who knows?"

Is this a manifestation of political diversity of this country? Not at all. They insist they are divided over many issues, but simply that is not true. Although there are 14 different combinations of answers to media-salient fake issues such as whether, and how fast, to phase out the nuclear power plants, their political platforms all come down to one and only worn-out cause: restore the imaginary prosperity, unity and harmony under the reign of the Emperor and the U.S. President.

I don't know what to make of this landscape where 14 political groups are competing against one another for a single empty cause. How do I know when these political racketeers don't know what they are doing themselves? All I can tell is it's yet another confirmation that Japan has been going around in circles for many decades by now. To say the least, it turned out to be another lost 20 years.

It's as though I am looking at Chojuu-Jinbutsu Giga (animal-person caricatures), a set of picture scrolls, unfolding before me. The caricatures were drawn in the 12th through 13th centuries by Buddhist monks to satirize subhuman creatures in action without knowing what they were doing.

Just for one thing Shintaro Ishihara, 80-year-old imbecile who had been remote-controlling a small group named Rise Up Japan Party from his Governor's office, took it over in mid-November with a lot of fanfare and renamed it something like The Sun Party. But just a week or so later the ex-Governor announced that he had dissolved the Sun Party to merge it into another new group headed by a 43-year-old ex-Governor of Osaka named Toru Hashimoto.

On the surface Hashimoto's political agenda is miles apart from Ishihara's. But if you take a closer look at them, you will know that the two guys are 360-degrees, rather than 180-degrees, different from each other. The common denominator between Ishihara and Hashimoto is the fact that both of them are the most unscrupulous racketeers.

Hashimoto, who is a former ambulance chaser, has authored many books in which he openly says the most important attribute for a successful politician is the skills to deceive people without getting convicted. Ironically, his defiant frankness has earned him a reputation that he is an honest person. His biological father was a yakuza gangster. That's not his fault as he always insists, but if he has an unmistakable yakuza mentality himself, as he actually does, that's a different story.

General Douglas MacArthur did two things to the Japanese in his capacity as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Firstly he handed back Emperor Hirohito alive to the people. Equally important, he gave them a multiparty system when he ordered Nobusuke Kishi, grandfather of Shintaro Abe, to lay out the 1955 System in exchange for his release from the Sugamo Prison, instead of sending him climbing the 13 steps to the gallows.

You never know whether it was a gross negligence or a willful act. But if he did it by design, MacArthur was one of the best conspirators of the 20th century because a multiparty system is not only totally dysfunctional in a country where people have no idea about civil society, but also fatally damaging to it. It's unlikely that the General, who knew all the Japanese were 12-year-olds, didn't know they didn't have a sense of self. Over time anything other than a single-party system will undermine a monolithic country like Japan.

It's, therefore, no accident that this country has seen the same "much ado about nothing" over and over. Every time this happens, the media untiringly tell their audience to expect a new Japan to emerge from the turmoil always termed "political alignment." This time around, the social media have joined forces with them to tell the people to repeat the same folly expecting a different outcome in the upcoming snap election of the Lower House.

Something is fundamentally wrong with this system. And there is no way out of the deadend situation.

I know you Westerners, especially Americans, will sneer at this political landscape. But hold on a minute. Are you sure this is a "fire on the other shore"? Don't you ever expect the Japanese to refrain from re-exporting to your country this rubbish called "American democracy." It will bring you a disaster because a multiparty system twisted in the Japanese way is totally incongruous with your country where the process of America's Japanization has reached its final stage.

In recent years I've been more and more out of touch with your take on the political situation there. So correct me if I'm wrong. I think there are only two types of people in the U.S. today: those in the mainstream and those in the fringe. Mainstreamers admit they are facing some serious problems but they are confident that these problems will be contained sooner or later. On the other hand, people in the fringe say there's practically nothing that doesn't constitute a major problem, and all these problems have gone out of control by now. To put it differently, mainstreamers are swimming in the vast intellectual vacuum created by nation's chattering classes while those in the fringe are drowning in it.

Contrary to your belief, however, I think the two groups have one important thing in common: both are so self-righteous as to attribute these problems to someone else's failure. They constantly externalize, instead of internalize, anything that went wrong, and project it to the other side. In short, they are too busy telling other people to change to change themselves.

It makes me grin to imagine how these Buddhist monks would portray the microcosm of America in which the Kenyan monkey and the monster in the U.S. State Department are in action while they don't know what they are doing. Other people are just looking on.

Their self-deceptive attitudes make the American people look very much like Emperor Hirohito. In 1945, the zombie in the Imperial Palace ingeniously convinced MacArthur that he was a poor victim of the reckless generals of the Imperial Army. It's as though the Americans have learned from the Japanese Emperor how to fabricate a plausible alibi.

In November 2006, I uploaded a post under the title of "Is e-Democracy too wild an anticipation?". I thought the most formidable challenge facing us today is how to narrow the yawning gap between the obsolete sociopolitical systems and the technologies of the 21st century. Technologies and social engineering methodologies are centuries apart now. Time and again we have learned that the wider the gap, the more disastrous the consequence. But every time we have chosen to forget the bitter lesson.

When I wrote the piece, George W. Bush, in his second term, had already been labeled the second-worst president in U.S. history. But he didn't know he would soon be demoted to the third place.

In the last six years, almost 4,300 people have read this post. But none of them, but Gordon G. Chang, have given me a feedback presumably because it would require a creative thinking to fully explore the viability of an e-government. It remains a pipe dream as long as you think about just supplanting the old technologies with the web-based ones, which is "disruptive" in nature, while assuming the "as-is" sociopolitical systems and the underlying concept of the nation-state should still stay there. It's as though even America's electoral systems haven't proved totally unworkable.

Perhaps, still you can't really visualize a dramatic change that would lead to an e-Democracy. Let me ask you this question: "Do you know, by any chance, that even the empty-headed kid named Mark Zuckerberg could cause a sea change, for better or for worse, in the behaviors of Netizens in a matter of a few years?"

When I sent the link to Chang, he gave me a few mails. In the first mail, he wrote; "I was at a war game all weekend, so I have not yet had a chance to look at the pipedream stuff." (Emphasis mine.) The next day he came back to say: "Very funny, YY. I have no grandchildren. The war game was at the University of Pennsylvania. It was co-sponsored by a Washington think tank. My team lost. I will try [to read that piece] today." A couple of days later, he said: "Tons of interesting thoughts here. The second paragraph needs much more explanation so readers don't get lost." I think that's when I realized, for the first time, that I had to write off this self-complacent bastard.

Admittedly my 6-year-old proposition remained a little too sketchy. But still I want my audience to do some creative thinking using their own brains and give me a feedback that will, in turn, make me think using my own brain. That's why I take up the same issue once again here in the face of the total confusion in my native country.

Or, do you want to stay in the cul-de-sac, grumbling or lamenting over someone else's failure all the time?

In the last several years, many Americans, including Chang, have labeled me a negativist, which is not what I am. Now I think I should return the same infamy to you. You always shy away from action because of your mental inertia and physical cowardice. Yet, you still suspect I'm a daydreamer who habitually abuses opiate.

But in a sense, it's not your fault. It can't really be helped because you haven't experienced real poverty yourself thus far. To you wealthy flapjaws, "poverty" or "injustice" is just a word. For my part, however, I have to live on junk food which makes the real hogwash fed to swine look like a gorgeous treat. Day in, day out, I live that way because I'm supposed to support empty lives of emplobies in central and local government.

I sometimes think we are seeing the first sign of the restoration of democracy in the very cradle of the great idea - Greece. Its "shadow economy" now accounts for 25% of nation's GDP, which translates into much more than 25% of the population.

I hold these "corrupt" and "ill-disciplined" people in high regard because they no longer take it for granted that the nation-state named the Hellenic Republic, the European Union, the United Nations, or any other international body has a certain legitimacy and authenticity.

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