Thursday, August 02, 2012

Into The Darkness

Into the darkness
Soon you'll be sinking
What are you doing?
What can you be thinking?

- Graham Nash, "Into the Darkness" (1982)
Here is a trio for the ages...and it sure as heck is not Crosby, Stills & Nash.

On the left is Yamaoka Kenji, the yes-man who makes all other yes-men look good by comparison (and who has redefined the verb "to hover"); in the center Ozawa Ichiro ("It's not about me. Oh, who do I think I am kidding? It's always about me!); and to the right Suzuki Muneo, who is an entire library of bad.

This is a photo from the grand opening of the Nagata-cho offices of the Kokumin seikatsu ga dai'ichi to, the People's Life First Party (Corey Wallace had a way better translation of the party name). The acronym for the party's English name is LF.

Everything about yesterday's LF headquarters opening screams, "We have no money!"

- the cheesy sans-serif font of the party name (J) -- though the graphic designer does deserve some credit for having the dot in koku in red.

- the even cheesier party logo, which is the Democratic Party of Japan's logo turned on its side, in green, with the characters sei and katsu inside the circles.

- the unbelievably cheesy two-page pdf of the party's program (J). No, I am not kidding, this is the actual document, courtesy LF Acting President (daihyo daiko) Yamaoka Kenji's blog post about the opening.

- the tiny bottles of green tea, cans of oolong tea and whatever it is that the person in the foreground is holding up at the ceremonial toast:

- the absence of a URL in any of the images of the opening. It is hard to believe -- no, it is impossible to believe -- but after a month since breaking away from the DPJ, the LF, a party with 49 members, still does not have its own website.

- the presence according press reports of 40 members of the Diet at the unveiling, including members from Nihon Daiichi/True Democrats -- meaning that 20% of the LF's Diet contingent did not show up at the grand opening.(J)

As Aurelia George Mulgan noted even before the dust had settled, the July 2 breakaway from the DPJ marked the first time Ozawa walked out of a party without the party's cash hoard in hand. Since LF was not existence on January 1 of this year, it received not a single yen of the more than 8.3 billion yen in public campaign finance handed out on July 20 (J). Indeed, LF, should it choose to accept public funding, will not be receiving its first dollop of cash until April 2013. (J)

While the majority of LF members are either still enamored of Ozawa or at least see an advantage of going along with the charade, more than a few must be sitting at their Diet desks, their head in their hands, asking, "What have I done?"

Image credits:
Top: Jiji Press
Middle: Hokkaido Shimbun
Bottom: Jiji Press


Jun Okumura said...

Here is a trio for the ages...and it sure as heck is not Crosby, Stills & Nash.

How sad that Mr. Hatoyama was not there to lend his “Y” to this heartwarming reunion.

Michael Penn said...

The LF lawmakers I've talked to were plenty pessimistic from Day One of the new party. One of them suggested to me that forming this party was simply the "least bad" option they had to choose from. Staying in the DPJ wouldn't have offered much of a future either.

I'm still not sure why you are so overwhelmingly hostile towards Ichiro Ozawa. He's hardly the worst thing out there, and why facilitate the already over-the-top campaign by the establishment to destroy him? Why not train your fire on the people who really need to be opposed right now?

脱税の王 said...

It doesn't surprise me they don't have a website. Most people that vote probably wouldn't even know how to go to a site.
And wasn't internet campaigning banned based on some old-ass law about a set amount of flyers you can use to campaign?

MTC said...

Mr. Penn -

Please provide me with a list of persons upon toward whom I should be hostile. I have already said that Hatoyama Yukio belongs in prison. Should I add my further observation that he is a creep who would sell out his own mother -- because under Diet questioning from Yosano Kaoru, he sold out his own mother?

As for the other characters in the drama, who is more deserving? General Tamogami and his rag-tag bunch of nutcases? He does the nation's internal security forces a huge favor by attracting every flavor of right wing weirdness to his rallies. The NPA boys and girls need only record the goings-on, then log in the faces and the speeches at their leisure.

Ishihara Shintaro? I have already declared him to be a song-and-dance man, with Inose Naoki as the real governor. Or do you want me to insinuate that Inose, who has to has to stay in Ishihara's good graces by fostering the illusion that there is not a 10 yen's coin's worth of difference between them so he can continue to running the TMD, a job he loves, is a crypto-fascist?

Abe Shinzo? Mr. Walking on Eggshells?

Hashimoto Toru? The disciplinarian? He who has enough sense to hand of the duties of running his movement to his protégé when he himself is damaged goods? Who wants his countrymen to stop accepting a Panglossian this is the best of all possible worlds resignation to what is and instead take responsibility for their own predicaments?

Who are the persons who really need to be opposed right now?

MTC said...


If it had been CSN&Y, what would have been the song?

Jun Okumura said...

"Lookin' for somebody
Young enough to take it on
Clean up the corruption
And make the country strong"

Neil Young, "Looking for a Leader" (2006)

And Hatoyama would have been sincere.

Michael Penn said...

One of the frustrations of studying the Japanese political system is that we often don't know the names of the people who are really pulling the strings.

You have rightly criticized the prosecution of Ichiro Ozawa and even compared it to international cases like Anwar Ibrahim. Who are the people using Japan's judicial system to carry out a vendetta against those who challenge the establishment? Whomever they are, they need to be opposed.

Who is directing the police to film all the people who participate in anti-nuclear protests? What is the intention behind this and similar forms of police intimidation? Whomever is behind this, they need to be opposed.

When a protest is held featuring about 100,000 people in a central Tokyo park and the largest newspaper in the world essentially pretends it doesn't happen, there is a serious problem here. Whomever is contributing to this system in which ordinary people's voices are systematically disregarded, they need to be opposed.

When 90% of the public of a certain prefecture and essentially 100% of its political establishment firmly rejects a central government policy, but they are nevertheless brushed aside and have the policy forced down their throats in any case, this is unacceptable. Whomever is doing this to them needs to be opposed.

At this point in time, Ichiro Ozawa and Yukio Hatoyama are closer to being on the right side of most of the key policy issues and they are not the ones suppressing moves toward a participatory Japanese society.

I know very well that you criticize all sides, and I do appreciate that. The only thing I question (and only sometimes, like during one of your anti-Ozawa or anti-Hatoyama riffs) is your sense of proportion. Ozawa and Hatoyama do have their issues and are fair game, but some of the people trying to destroy them right now are much worse.

A good rule of thumb in my book is that any politician that the Yomiuri Shinbun strongly attacks probably needs to be strongly defended.

Unknown said...

The thing being held up that you don't recognize is can coffee, I think DyDo brand (I've seen that can a lot, but can't recall clearly as I'm not a coffee drinker).

MTC said...


It has to be a CSN&Y song.

My nominee:

"Helpless" (1970)

MTC said...

Mr. Penn -

You are the accredited journalist.

- find out who the members are of the Association of Those Seeking the Truth (Shinjitsu o Motomeru Kai)

- ask the NPA press information office what the NPA does with the video and photos it takes of anti-nuclear protests. Ask whether it does the same for Tamogami's rallies.

As for why Japanese news media members act in lockstep, you know the reasons: access, laziness and fear of falling off the career track. As for why the Yomiuri Shimbun was the last major outlet to report on the protests, you know the answer to that too: his initials are W and T.