The heat of August has caused the suitcase in my closet to rot and my will to work to melt but seems to have not harmed the thought processes of some fine denizens of the Japan-related blogosphere.
Jeffrey Lewis, formerly of the Japan Desk at the Defense Department, cogitates on the significance of China's 094 Jin Class nuclear missile submarine.
How Capable is the 094? (2/3)
Over at Trans Pacific Radio, Garrett DeOrio has composed the Anna Karenina of blogposts on the true liberal internationalist view of House Resolution 121 (the "Honda Resolution") .
The “Comfort Women” Resolution (HR 121) Passed: Why That's Not Bad
You can either agree in large part with these guys or you can stay a quivering paranoid.
The choice is yours.
Finally Tom Plate of the Los Angeles Times gets the message sent by the Japanese electorate on Sunday just about as well as a U.S.-based journalist can:
Voters to Abe: Japan's different
While I scarcely think it possible that George W. Bush could learn from Abe's humiliation (he seems to have learned very little from his own party's humiliation last November) I do like Mr. Plate's slapping around of some of the more popular snap judgments that have been made on the significance of this election.
Plate's muse fails him in only one glaring instance--the squaring of the circle of the rural/urban divide. More fiscal constriction of the countryside--Koizumi the Second, he calls it--is not the answer. Nor either is the Ozawa alternative of paying farmers and other primary producers more than their product is worth.
I was struck by an article in the Asahi that asked, "We are always talking about the social difference (shakai kakusa) between the poor rural and the rich urban areas. What about the shakai kakusa of the continuing overrepresentation of the rural regions in the Diet?"
The lack of meaningful redistricting in the past led the politicians of the rural regions to transform their home districts into economic basket cases dependent on government contracts, resource subsidies and massive environmental desecration. The pumping of cash into the furusato furthermore kept populations living in places that had no ostensible economic reason to exist. The economic freefall of prefectures like Akita and draining of population into Tokyo (90,000+ new residents in 2006) are the results not of post-2000 neo-liberalism but forty years (c. 1960 - c. 2000) of scarcely camouflaged socialism.
What social difference shall we rectify? And by what means? To try to end up where and with what?
Questions that have yet to find their proper answer.