Every single thing Abe and his party have sought to make happen has happened. Unless there is some extraordinary reversal of fortune between now and election day, Abe's LDP will sweep the district and the proportional races, leaving out of courtesy – not necessity—a smattering of seats to their electoral allies, the New Komeito.
With the seeming inevitability of a landslide and the prospects of an Abe administration unleashed following a massive victory in the July elections, the tone of the comic verse published in my Saturday newspaper have taken a decidedly uncomic turn.
国あげてIt is cherry blossom viewing season (at an unseasonably early time, yet another brick in the wall of worry for those of us wishing a livable planet for our children) and indulging to excess on alcohol is a part of the festivities. However, the oblivion described is far from blissful. The lack of knowledge of the future refers not just to loss of fear of the future from drunkenness but also to the quick scattering of the cherry blossoms, who know no future because they have none. The "All over the country" furthermore does not refer just the geographical space but the people of Japan, who are drinking themselves into a stupor because they do not want to know the future.
Ato wa shiranu to
All over the country
No knowledge of that which is to come
The sake of cherry blossom viewing
労組よりIt has been the time of the ritualized spring struggle (shunto) in between the labor unions and the managements of the major corporations. The remuneration rate rises won by the major unions become the standard for remuneration in all businesses.
Tsuru hitokoe de
Rather than the labor unions
From the voice of ultimate power (one call of the crane)
As has been the case for longer than anyone wishes to contemplate, labor union requests for dramatically higher wages – i.e., a sharing of the profits the corporations have made through long term cost-cutting and the recent fall of the yen – have been turned down by corporate executives, even with the Abe government encouraging corporations to be more generous. (Link)
The crane voice of Tsusu hitokoe de is not the crane’s cry of classical poetry, which is associated with a love of one’s children and one’s homeland. Instead it is the voice of ultimate, unquestionable authority (in this cases, the CEOs of the corporations). With a single utterance, it ends all conversation.
オスプレイThe LDP in its December 2012 election manifesto promised to establish a national day of remembrance of Japan’s Occupation. On March 12, the Cabinet ratified the establishment of a public commoration, choosing April 28, the anniversary of the entry into effect of the San Francisco peace treaty, as the day. While shuken no hi will not be a national holiday, there will be a formal government ceremony with the emperor in attendance
zujo ni iwau
shuken no hi
the day of return of our sovereignty
The establishment of this day of national liberation has understandably infuriated Okinawans, for whom April 28 is a day of shame. (Link)
The author of the senryu mocks the pretentions of the Abe administration, pointing out that the same week the Cabinet established a day celebrating the end of the Occupation, U.S. Forces Japan began conducting training flights of the highly controversial V22A Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft over Japan’s main islands.
公約とOne cannot get more negative than insinuating the campaign promises of the ruling party are fraud (sagi).
sagi to wakaru mo
Even if you can differentiate
campaign promises from fraud
it's too late
The negative view of the author is nevertheless one very much of the minority. Cabinet approval is riding high at over 70%. When voters who support the Cabinet are asked why they are doing so, an overwhelming (possibly historic) majority say, "faith in the Cabinet's policies."
The popularity of the government's programs and the reality that the election has already happened prompt the bitter final line of toki ososhi -- translatable as "It's too late for that now" or "That ship has sailed."
The sense of hopelessness reached its apogee this week in the poem that the editors of my local paper published at the top of their weekly feature of poems sent in by readers.
あんなにもIn contrast to the topicality of most senryu, the lead poem is transcendent, without a clear link to a specific incident or government act. It might be a reference to the Democratic Party of Japan's voting in favor of the appointment of former Finance Ministry bureaucrat Kuroda Katsuhiko as Governor of the Bank of Japan five years after the DPJ provoked a major crisis in rejecting two Finance Ministry old boys for the post. Then again, the author may be referring to another betrayal of conscience.
Anna ni mo
hantai shita no ni
After opposing it
You are now agreeing to it
Very possibly the author is making a sweeping accusation of all, cursing all for surrendering to the new regime, abandoning principles and beliefs without a fight.