Friday, December 28, 2007

And to all your stories shall come end

With the decision on Wednesday by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to accept the restoration of textbook mentions of Imperial Army complicity in the forced suicides of Japanese civilians during the battle of Okinawa, a reversal of the reactionary conservative revolution neared its completion. On Tuesday, the Fukuda goverment buried the National Security Council--a seminal structural reform spearheaded by former prime minister Abe Shinzō and lavishly praised by his American handlers.

Yoi o shōgatsu o.

Tobias Harris has produced a magisterial review of Japanese politics in 2007. Without a doubt this has been the most turbulent year since at least 1993, possibly the most turbulent year since 1960.

In his exhaustive review (I disagree with Martin Frid: the Aegis data leak controversy seems to be small jagaimo trumped up to assuage American umbrage) Mr. Harris recounts the major inflection points and head-slapping blunders of the last 12 months.

However, Mr. Harris, out a sense of balance and objectivity, has left out the texture of this year, the rough and nameless warp through which the events of this year were wefted.

Though it is impolitic to make mention of it--and opens me up to accusations of paranoia-- the country dodged a bullet in 2007. The LDP under Abe's leadership looks pathetic in retrospect--but until the middle of the night of July 29, when the full scale of the LDP losses became clear, feeling persons should not have been able to rid themselves of a looming sense of dread.

We look back on the period of January to July 2007 and see a weekly and monthly cavalcade of embarrassments. In the Diet, however, where the leftist furies of the Op-Ed pages, the mocking of the cartoons and the sniping of the morning shows died away into a background murmur--the reactionary-revolutionary movement went from strength to strength. Everything the movement wanted--with the notable exception of the elimination of the references of comfort women from the official Japanese historical narrative--the movement succeeded in pushing through.

In publications and on television, where critical and vital debate should have raged, a gray sameness of clipped observations reigned. Faced with the potential retaliation from the right wing politico-media colossus, even men and women of goodwill quavered and toned down their reasonable objections. One can laugh about it now--but from January to August the omnipotent and omnipresent national broadcaster NHK reduced itself to AAN, the All-Abductee Network. Lesser publications and networks were even more supine in their self-censorship and slavish in their promotion of government initiatives.

Had the LDP prevailed in the July 29 elections, justifying the rule of Abe and his fellow reactionary-revolutionaries, then the much-criticized steamrollering of every piece of legislation in the January to June 2007 period would have looked like a love hug. Unbound by either a functioning constitutional court system or a viable opposition, the merciless Meiji fantabulists (and hangers on like Fujiwara Masahiko, a merciless Tokugawa fantabulist) would have finally had the means to become legislative tyrants. They would have unmade post-1945 Japan -- in their eyes, an ugly, groveling, ignoble beast of a nation -- in favor of a beautiful country of more obedient, and more abject, citizens.

The people of the this blessed land, for reasons both selfish and selfless, managed to short-circuit this incipient pseudo-Meiji restoration. Thank Amaterasu for a mandated and inescapable election--it forced the revolution's hand before the damage was beyond repair.

It was a close run thing, though.

Too close.


Anonymous said...

And like the history issues themselves, this reality remains an elephant in the room, albeit stuff now under the kotatsu - a cancer in remission, waiting to perhaps rear its ugly head again someday.

vincent said...

Too close.... that's why I think they could be back soon.

Martin J Frid said...

Talking about elephants - Taro Aso was actually very close to becoming Prime Minister. How different things could have been. But democracy works in mysterious ways.

As for the Aegis data leak - that story remains unresolved as far as I am concerned.

On a happier note, I would suggest that relations between East Asian nations have actually never been better than they are right now.