Saturday, February 16, 2013

More On East Asia's Aristocracies

While political dynasties are a perverse development in democracies around the world, the case of East Asia is alarming. I have posted briefly and unremarkably here and here on the topic, which deserves far more attention. Over at the East Asian Forum, Julius Trajano and Yoes Kenawas bring me up to speed on the political dynasty situation in the Philippines, which I was aware of, and in Indonesia, which I was not (Link). Their analysis of the causes of dynasty formation and their proposed solutions indicate a parochial focus, though, rather than a broad-based comparative approach.

A big book to be written, or big conference to be organized. Problem: who will fund a deep look into such a discomforting subject?

Back in this blessed land, the members of the Cabinet revealed their assets yesterday, with caveats. As the Wall Street Journal reports, members of Abe II are by and large significantly better off than the members of the Noda Cabinet. (Link)

My morning dead-tree news delivery device devoted a full page to the members of the Cabinet and their holdings:

I had always wondered what was the juice behind Inada Tomomi, the card-carrying Friend of Shinzo and lawyer whose leaden pronouncements of doom have been a page-filler of the right wing press for the past decade. The answer seems to be her husband's diversified equity holdings and a bewildering number of small Tokyo rental properties the couple co-own.

In terms of landholdings, the very wealthy Taro Aso (whose dandyism is now a subject international commentary) and Prime Minister Abe Shinzo are the barons. In terms of number and variety of declared holdings, however, National Safety Commissioner and Abe family retainer Furuya Keiji puts all other Cabinet members to shame. He lists 62 real estate holdings, 9 of which are of less than 10 meters square. Three of his listed properties are only 1 square meter in size (total assessed value = 60,000 yen) while nine parcels of forest and field land are given an accounting value of zero (which means that the parcel is worth less than the cutoff point of 10,000 yen).

The person with the shortest report is, unsurprisingly, child of dire poverty Shimomura Hakubun. His holdings are not just small, but sadly unimaginative: his home, 200 million in bank savings accounts and 60 million in postal savings. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide and State Minister for Declining Birthrate and Consumer Affairs Mori Masako, two of the Cabinet's coolest and most celebral members, are also asset-light.

Winners of the "we know what the rules are" awards are the earnest sons of privilege Sadagaki Tanigaki and Ishihara Nobuteru, both of whom list savings accounts with the guaranteed amount in them -- and not one yen more.

1 comment:

Yoes Kenawas said...

Dear Mr. Kucek,

Hi, first of all I would like to thank you for reading our commentary. I am so happy that you have the same interest regarding the existence of political dynasties in the East Asian and Southeast Asian polities.
I agree that the proposed solution in that commentary is limited. Nevertheless, I believe that there's no 'one size fits all' solution, even for the two countries in the commentary.
Above all, I am really grateful to learn and broaden my perspective, as well as to have more discussion, exchanging ideas and designing a solution with you. Perhaps, we could do something to address the issue of Political dynasties in Asia. I believe Mark W. Thompson of Hongkong University (please correct me if I was wrong) have done a very interesting research on this topic.
Once again, thank you so much for reading and i look forward to having a discussion with you.

Ps: I will drop a message to your email.


Yoes Kenawas