The failure yesterday of Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko to come to a decision regarding Japanese participation in preliminary talks toward joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an embarrassing non-decision decision from points of view both domestic and international, should still be seen in a positive light. In the overall scheme of things, discussions of and decisions regarding globalization are controlled but those who benefit most from its spread and infiltration. The losers from globalization are given short shrift, as they are for the most part too busy scraping by to have the time to engage the elites and their facilitators in the news media and academia.
In Japan, however, due to skewed apportionment and a convoluted electoral system, globalization's likely losers have a platform from which they can shout out their fears about the future. Politicians and the news media have an interest in listening to these fears, and transmitting them to the loftiest corridors of power.
When confronted by the fears of globalization's losers, elites -- who have overwhelmingly benefited from globalization's march, socialize with each other, intermarry and raise new elites -- have had remarkably weak arguments for globalization's deepening. Having not pre-emptively addressed the rising levels of inequality in societies everywhere, even in a rigidly self-reinforcing egalitarian society such as Japan's, the elites should have better answers than "society in the aggregate benefits." Globalization's losers need to know that they, not just "society," will benefit and in clearly definable ways*.
Something for the frequent-flyer-and-meet-you-in-the-hotel-lobby class to think about on this day.
Just like Prime Minister Noda has had to.
* It is true that not all the potential losers are poor. One could hardly argue that the members of the Japan Medical Association are hurting for cash.
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