Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Excuse Me, But What The [Expletive Deleted] Does That Mean?

We were talking about Liberal Democratic Party President Tanigaki Sadakazu and his huge problem: that in 2 and 1/2 years as LDP president, he has taken the party virtually nowhere in terms of its popularity.*

It seems that certain members of the party have been aware of this problem for some time now. Indeed, in the fall of last year, the party established an advisory committee to help Tanigaki develop a more appropriately conservative doctrine and image for the LDP.

The members of this council of advisors?

Former Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro
Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo
Former Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo
Former Prime Minister Aso Taro

I know what you are thinking: "Wise men...and winners...each and every one."

Put aside for a moment the comedic possibilities of having these four elder statespersons offering adobaisu (just quoting the Japanese text here) on how to make the LDP a more vital party and Tanigaki a more inspiring leader.

You're right, I can't do it either.

Be it as it may, the first public meeting of the group took place on Monday. Well, actually, not. There was a meeting but only Abe and Aso showed up. Mori and Fukuda had better other things to do.

At the meeting the pair representing the collective wisdom of the foursome presented nine proposals. These nine proposals were so salient and pertinent that not a single news organization has published them in their entirety. They furthermore cannot be found on the LDP's, Abe's, Aso's or Mori's websites. It is possible Fukuda would post them on his website, if he had one.

The Tokyo Shimbun, whether out of duty or pity, reproduced two of these proposals in its article on the meeting. (J)

The first suggestion is that rather than focusing on improving the efficiency of fiscal policies and reforms of the tax system, the party should emphasize fiscal reconstruction and not passing on a burden to future generations.

If you can tell how those two ideas are different in a significant way, or how doing the one precludes doing the other, please send me an email.

[Ed. - See Comment #Alex]

The second suggestion is even better than the first. It is -- and I am not making this up:

"Reform of the Constitution and the establishment of a Japan that is more like Japan."

Now this particular suggestion has Abe Shinzo's paw prints all over it. It was Abe who declared that one of the primary goals of his term in office (which turned out to be far briefer than he imagined it would be) would be the promulgation of a constitution "written by our own hands." It seems that the current constitution, drafted in English and in haste by an ad hoc team of SCAP staff members in 1946, suffers from a lack of legitimacy and sensitivity to Japan's spiritual identity.

Tossing away the context -- the faith in Japan's right wing that the U.S. Occupation Forces-drafted Constitution condemns Japanese to an eternal self-flagelatory inferiority complex and domination by left-wing teachers unions -- just what exactly, in an absolute sense, is "a Japan that is more like Japan?" I do not think that the four former prime ministers could come up with a single answer, much less 126 million Japanese citizens. I do not think that Abe and Aso, who managed to both agree to make time in their schedules to show up at this meeting, could come up with a single answer.

To whit, a huge cartoon of a grinning Aso overlooks the maid cafes, electronics bazaars, game figurine emporia and various shrines to AKB 48 and its spin offs in Akihabara. The image of the manga-fan former PM declares his love of all he surveys, the epicenter of Japan's post-post modernist otaku cultural earthquake.

Would Aso classify the seething, transmogrifying mass of Akihabara's simultaneously infantilist, hypersexualized, exhibitionist and alienated sub-cultures as part of Japan that is truly Japan? Judging from what is written in his book, you bet.

By contrast, I do not for one second believe Abe Shinzo has ever spent any amount of time in Akihabara...and if he were ever to spend any time there, I am sure, from what it is in his book, he would not like it.

Not one little bit.


* The very most recent polls have had some encouraging news for Tanigaki. When subjects were asked which party they would likely vote for on the proportional ballot in the next House of Representatives election, around 23% have said they would vote for the LDP and only around 14% have said they would vote for the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (one example - J).

These figures are far more promising for the party than the absolute party support numbers, which have the LDP and the DPJ in a near statistical tie in their unpopularity.


Alex said...

Good stuff, though to be fair, the source you link to for the first pearl exhorts Tanigaki to do 'A by means of B', not 'A instead of B'.

Michael Thomas Cucek said...

Alex -

Tripped up by a "ni" - thank you for pointing out my misreading of the sentence.

The Chrysanthemum Sniffer said...

Fukuda and Aso aren't exactly visionary leaders, but they are in my view often unfairly maligned. Both were left with the mess of the Koizumi years. Koizumi did some good, notably by dealing with the bad loans problem, but ultimately his bluster and his bait-and-switch tactics created a lot of division over his policies, if keeping his image intact. You can't really blame Fukuda and Aso for having a hard time patching things together. Fukuda had to deal with a DPJ that had become energized over the Iraq/refueling issue and Aso, even as he tried to position himself as a graduate of a political school of hard knocks was simply the captain of a ship that was sinking.

Abe had to deal with the aftermath of the Koziumi years as well, but because he had his own ideas about what "being Japan" meant, he was rather oblivious to the fact that people didn't see him as the great leader that he thought he was. He ignored scandal until the refueling issue--sorry, I meant diarrhea--finally looked to sully his reputation as a man who understood the needs of his nation.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that reputations to the contrary, I don't think Aso and Fukuda were really out of touch per se, and thus probably could make some sort of contribution to a panel dealing with the identity of the LDP.