wait for it...
wait for it...
Because when compiling the list of the causes of Japan's modern ills, a reasonable method of writing Japanese words as they are pronounced must not be allowed to escape opprobrium and condemnation.
For reasons clear only to the members of this group, which met for the first time on Wednesday (because, being Diet members, they had nothing else to do, the Diet being in session and all) reading and writing using four different symbol systems (kanji, hiragana, katakana and romaji) two of which are borrowed from languages that have no morphological similarities with Japanese--is simply too easy.
What is needed to revitalize Japan is the reversal of the orthography reforms carried out under the Occupation, the ones that eliminated the superfluous "wi" and "we" kana and most of the archaic kanazukai reflecting ancient pronunciations or differentiations of homophones. The most notable escapees from reform are the uses of the "ha" and "he" kana for the particles pronounced "wa" and "e" in modern Japanese.
The goal of the Occupation-era simplification was to make reading and writing less onerous, opening the door of literacy wide for all the newly enfranchised citizens. The PRC government had similar "democratization of society through democratization of literacy" goals in carrying out its own massive simplification of Chinese characters...with the democratization bit seeming to have been not quite so successful in the Chinese case.
(Hmmm...the anti-PRC angle...)
At the May 28 inaugural meeting, Hiranuma explained the study group's raison d'être thusly:
"We say that words have the spirit of words (kotodama) in them...and in generation after generation, our ancestors took care of them. But then there were the policies of occupation and now the national language is greatly disturbed. I want to establish a movement to bring back a steadfast (shikkari to shita) national language."It is all there: the reification of prewar society; the blame for a purported current, debased state of the national language upon the democratizing reforms of outsiders (Americans, yes you damnable, occupying, gelding Americans, I am talking about you!); the betrayal of the ancestors and antiquity; the presence of kami everywhere, even in the very words we speak...the whole, esoteric mystery-spinning, xenophobic, nostalgic, nobility, blood-and-semen worshipping authoritarianism just beneath the skin of every self-professed "conservative"...
Oh Amaterasu, can we be not spared hearing any more from these ugly minds?
Luckily, or perhaps because Amaterasu has already heard our prayers, Hiranuma managed to summon to his shindig a motley crew of the truly unusual suspects. Former Prime Minister Mori ("Japan is a land of kami with the emperor as the centerpiece") Yoshirō is the chief advisor to group. Clearly demonstrating the moral perfection of achievable through archaic orthography was the presence of the LDP's Funada "the Very Sorry Adulterer" Hajime. Watanuki Tamisuke, leader of the Japan People's Party and the leather-skinned co-owner (with Kamei Shizuka) of the Ugliest Man in the Diet Award put in appearance, together with the bat-eared Nishioka Takeo, the Democratic Party of Japan leader in the House of Councillors.
Of the above, Watanuki is to be forgiven for wishing a return of the old ways. He is a calligrapher of extraordinary talent. T'is indeed a pity that he chose politics as a profession rather than art. That he would want to restore archaic, complex written forms is understandable.
As with any Diet study group, especially one where Hiranuma plays a leading role, the press speculates as to whether or not the orthography movement is a screen for meetings leading to the formation of a hardline conservative party. Hiranuma is the chief advisor to Nakagawa Shōichi's "True (space) Conservative Policy Study Group" [Honest to Amaterasu, I am not making this up: the actual name is the "True (space) Conservative Policy Study Group"]—which clearly styles itself the kernel of a future hardline party. Hiranuma has also been claiming he can lure enough former postal rebels who lost their seats following Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's purge of the LDP in 2005, local LDP politicians, disgruntled current LDP and DPJ Diet members on his own to field 30-strong contingent of district seat candidates in the next House of Representatives election.
It is unlikely that this orthography counterreformatory group is the core or even the shadow of a Hiranuma-led new party. Former Prime Minister Mori's presence indicates that the movement likely does not seek to break down the major divisions of the existing political order.
The sheer cussed antiquarian pointlessness of organizing a Diet study group on reestablishing the complex, anachronistic pre-Occupation written forms of words does, however, cast an interesting light on the dormant constitutional reform movement. As former Prime Minister Abe Shinzō repeated ad nauseum, Japan (and by "Japan" he meant himself and his revisionist/fantabulist allies) needs (and by "needs" he meant "is going to get") a Constitution "written by our own hands" – meaning, of course, not dictated to the surviving members of Japan's elite by outsiders (Americans, yes you damnable, occupying, gelding Americans, I am talking about you!)
Because pater and patria should not be sundered.
The formation of this new group shows that no postwar reform is spared the gelded rage of today's "true conservatives" –- no matter how useful or beneficial something may be, if the Meiji State did not have it, then out it must go. In the conservative mind, it is not just the anti-military strictures of Article 9 or the emperor's renunciation of divine and sovereign status that have impermissibly hollowed out Japan's moral center, leaving it at the mercy of the rapacious Chinese and North Koreans. The humiliating, democratizing rationalization of "spelling" by the Occupation, is destroying Japan.
No humiliation too small, no reform too rational that it will not attract the vorpal blade of the "true (space) conservative" right...