Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Behold All Your Banners Against Medievalism Unfurled

Poor William Pesek. He is Bloomberg's Asian economics columnist, an important economic voice... and yet nobody seems to listen to any of his recommendations.

Contemporary Japan in particular is starting to really aggravate him.

Let's Tap Japan's Baby 'Machines,' Immigrants

Feb. 12 -- Japan has never been known for a thriving feminist movement. The World Economic Forum ranks it 69th out of 75 countries in female empowerment. Tokyo is still awash with women wearing work uniforms that make them look like 1970s flight attendants.

The weakness of women's lib in the world's No. 2 economy may come as a surprise to Hakuo Yanagisawa. Japan's embattled health minister has been front-page news since describing women as ``baby-making machines'' on Jan. 27. You would think millions of Japanese women had suddenly discovered Gloria Steinem.

Even by the standards of Japanese politicians, Yanagisawa went too far. "I reprimanded him severely," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after female lawmakers called for Yanagisawa's resignation. Yanagisawa, 71, apologized, further displaying his cluelessness by saying women were "people whose role it is to give birth."

What's more, Yanagisawa defined "baby-making machines" as women between the ages of 15 and 50. Was he suggesting that teenage girls do more to increase Japan's low birthrate? The man should resign, and now.

Dear William, Yanagisawa Hakuo's still on the job--if not on the ball, if you know what I mean.

Pesek has just about had it with Japan. Nothing works here, at least as far as he sees it. Women and children are not valued. Immigration is limited. Politicians are venal and narrow minded. Interest rates are too low, flooding the world's asset markets with too much liquidity.

He needs a break, I'm afraid. While he has in the past acknowledged that cures to Japan's ills could kill the patient before the turnaround kicks in, he hopes for (demands) too much of a country without visionary, forward-looking leaders.

He is starting to chase his own tail.

Where to begin?

1) stop worrying about future liabilities. Barring an invasion, the Japanese people, Japanese business and Japanese public servants will manage, somehow.

Corollary: children are not solutions to shortfalls in future social welfare spending, so stop referring to them as such. The difference between a person who considers women baby making machines and one who considers children the sherpas of future armies of rudely healthy retirees is not large. Of course, children cannot vote, so there is no electoral price to pay when one demeans them as "snotty little immature future taxpaying machines."

2) stop listening to the Finance Ministry, gaishikei investment bankers, taxi drivers and Ishihara Shintarō. Listen to small-town mayors, highway construction company executives, whaling ship owners, students riding kakuekiteisha trains from Ueno to Fukushima Prefecture to save 1850 yen...

... the story of what Japan is and what it can become is out there.

While I am airing out my grievances, somebody please convince me that Ed Lincoln, the person who in many ways is the reason why I keep this blog, has not sold out completely in an essay for this week's Newsweek.


Anonymous said...

well, pesek has two meanings in the language of your paternal ancestors - one is a small dog, and the other is sand, as in gravel ... just thought you might want to know about Pesek ...


Jun Okumura said...

Whoa! Mr. Lincoln got the illest head fake since Larry Bird. Someone tell him the Celtics need a new head coach.

Pay is good.

Of course Larry woulda never settled for two when he coulda hit a trey.

ross said...

interesting, could you expand on the ed lincoln-blog causal connection? and i may see ed tomorrow so i will try to find the newsweek piece. any questions for him?

Jun Okumura said...

'Tis in the mail, Ross.

MTC said...

Ross -

Thank you for your interest. I cannot go much beyond what is written in the blog post. All I can say is that if it were not for a Wall Street Journal item Mr. Lincoln penned long ago, I likely would have never been forced to pound my drum and toot my horn in a forum of my own creation.