Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Man Forgotten

I sat in the room he was murdered in on Sunday.

I go there every few years, to consider the elegant and intricate webwork of wood and Meiji era glass panes ("Don't Touch the Windows" the signs warn) of the wraparound hallway on the second floor, the floor the assassins found him on. I go to look at the large photograph on the stand, of him vital despite his advanced years, bursting with pride and impishness, his bashful granddaughter beside him.

To consider the indecency of his killers, the self-appointed defenders of the country he had actually saved.

A small artificial stream burbles outside the house, whilst from downstairs come the disconcerting sounds and smells of a restaurant.

Someday maybe they will move the kissaten out of the lower floor. It is distasteful, given the violent death suffered by the owner of the house within its walls.

The house is not where it was. The land upon which it once stood is now a little-visited, somewhat forbidding public park next door to the Canadian Embassy.

To visit the home, to be in the room where he was cut down, one must go to the Edo Tokyo Tatemonoen, the outdoor architecture museum in Koganei whose buildings have served as the inspirations for the interiors and exteriors of so many of the Studio Ghibli's animated features.

There by the temporary entrance (the grand entrance is closed for renovations) is the main part of his home, salvaged and reconstructed.

* * *

With grinding, almost terrifying slowness, we are being engulfed in the greatest economic collapse since the 1930s...and no one mentions him.

The one whose wise leadership, action and counsel guided his country out of the pit.

A week ago I was watching one of the Sunday talk show programs where the host and his guests were discussing the global economic crisis and the election of Barack Obama as president. For some reason the assembled were stuck on talking about whether America now needs a new New Deal and whether indeed Japan will need a New Deal-like fiscal stimulus and employment package.

I felt like screaming at the set, "What are you babbling about? The New Deal did not pull the U.S. out of its economic crisis! It only prevented the U.S. economy from collapsing into nothingness! If you want to talk about recovery, why the hell are you talking about what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did? Especially as the person who figured out what to do was a Japanese!!!"

University of California Berkeley professor and blogger J. Bradford DeLong has this graph

posted to his website, part of his invaluable, open study materials for his Econ 161 class.

Look at the blue dotted line. Whilst other countries wallowed in the Great Depression, Japan leapt out of it, recovering its 1929 level of output in 1932--before Franklin Delano Roosevelt was even elected President of the United States. By 1936, the year the young officers of the Imperial Army were to murder the architect of the recovery--the man in whose house I was sitting in on Sunday--as well as the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal and the Army Inspector-General, Japan's GDP was 25% larger than it had been in 1929, when the boom had peaked.

And yet, since the beginning of the greatest financial crisis of our times, I swear I have not heard one television mention of him, one article outlining what he did to halt deflation and wealth destruction whilst most of the rest of the world economy was spiraling down the drain, not one photograph of his face on the posters in the subway for the monthlies and weeklies on purportedly serious subjects.

Could it be because the sons and grandsons and granddaughters of those who rose to power in the chaos of the 1930s -- they and their flunkeys who still afflict this blessed land -- they would not want us to remember that not all were as compromised and ignoble as their ancestors and heroes?


Anonymous said...

>to consider the elegant and intricate of webwork of wood

Not to belittle the remainder, but something is missing here.

Anonymous said...

please enlighten me, a distant foreigner. - who was that man, and where I find more of what he did ?



MTC said...

john turningpin -

Thank you for pointing out the typographical error.

Anonymous said...

No need to keep your family in the dark:

Finance Minister Korekiyo Takahashi, murdered February 26, 1936 by a rebel faction of the Imperial Army.

Anonymous said...

But all you need to do is "hope" in "change, we need," and just ignore that the US Congress and Acorn played any role in anything, and deify FDR, and worship the Obamassiah, and everything will be okay.

Whyfor believe ye not?

Personally I believe Barry will do an even better job than Roosevelt did to screw up the economy.

Also, are you hinting that we should get mentally prepared for WWIII?

MTC said...

brianakira -

As to your question, the answer is "No."