So after all of that rhetoric about abolishing road tolls (高速道路無料化法案), Hatoyama has decided to rethink his plan and only allocate 1/6 of the original budget detailed in their manifesto. Until last week, I, like 65% of Japanese voters, actually wanted him to scrap the entire plan altogether. I happened across some insightful interviews with the academics who originally proposed the policy and have since gained some insight into where the concept came from. How does Hatoyama look at himself in the mirror after promising that Japan will cut green-house gas reductions by 25%? Continue reading When should Japan’s Highways be Freeways?
I don’t know about you but in my family it is a tradition to gather together with lots of friends on election night and follow the opening of votes. That’s right: “Election Party Night” and it is on again this Sunday. So just in case you are only a “social watcher” of politics, I decided to put together a few of my notes on the election so that a few more people can enjoy following what could be a historic election for Japan. If you know your Japanese politics pretty well then feel free to skip the first 2~3 paragraphs and get into the meat.
The LDP won the last lower house election (2005) after Koizumi dissolved parliament to win support for his key policy of privatizing the post office. Voter turnout was huge (for Japan) and the LDP won 296 out of the 480 seats in the lower house. (327 including Komeito) The Democrats didn’t even win a quarter of the seats (113/480).
This time around the tide has changed and the Democrats will be focusing on two magic numbers. Continue reading Everything you need to know about this Sunday’s lower house election
If this was any other country I think you’d assume that a political party named the “Happiness Realization Party” was a hoax (or a bunch of hippies). But this is Japan and if the amount of donations to fight the next election is any gauge, I think it is safe to say that this new party on the Japanese political scene is very serious.
It’s more than likely that you’ve heard their trucks driving around near you because the Happiness Realization Party (幸福実現党) are fielding a candidate in every one of the 300 single-seat electoral districts (小選挙区, shosenkyoku) and if that wasn’t enough they are also providing a list of a whopping 45 candidates for the proportional-representation constituency (比例区, hireiku).*1 While their “uguisujo” (鶯嬢, noisy hired help shouting out politicians names from vans) don’t mention it directly, the Happiness Realization Party are actually a close affiliate of the shinkoshukyu (新興宗教, slightly controversial religion) known as “Happy Science”. Continue reading Happiness through Japanese Politicians?
With all of the focus on the arrest of Ichiro Ozawa’s secretary and the debate about whether or not Construction companies should be allowed to make official donations to political parties and candidates, the Japanese parliament seems to have come to a halt. Normally I wouldn’t give two hoots if the Japanese parliament had a back log of laws to vote on because it is extremely rare that Japanese politicians have anything of interest to say. But this month, I really wish that they would speed up their act. If they don’t pass an upcoming bill then your (and my) cheese bill could be 30% higher from next month, thanks to the inept Japanese parliament. Continue reading Rush and buy cheese!
In America, former movie stars make good Presidents. In the East, it seems, it works the other way: it takes a politician to become a popular porn star. If you’re lucky enough, you might have seen some photos of the hottest property in Japanese politics, Yuri Fujikawa (藤川ゆり) showing off her cleavage at a beach in her hometown of Hachinohe, 八戸 (not to be confused with the real porn star, of the same name! Warning – NSFW link).
For those that are not up on their Aomori geography, Hachinohe is a smallish town in the east coast of Aomori prefecture at the tip of Honshu. It’s biggest year round tourist attraction is its rather dull fish market (Hasshoku Centre, 八食センター), usually full of local elderly folks, and US Marines from the nearby Misawa Airforce Base (presumably because there is nothing else for them to do in their time off). Anyway, I digress – the point is, that Hachinohe is an extremely quiet, down-to-earth, and above all conservative community. Throw into that mix a young (hot) representative who just released a gravure DVD and a sexy photo shoot book, and you have some fiery topics of conversation for the population of sleepy old Hachinohe (and far beyond!). Continue reading Japanese Politician Stoops to Soft Porn for the Good of the Electorate
Have you made a donation to your local LDP politician lately? I hope not. If you read the Nikkei on the weekend of the 26th October you might have noticed the two page spread (p6~7) detailing the assets of the senior (and not so senior) members of the new Aso cabinet. Given the amount of corruption in Japanese bureaucracy, it sounds like a good idea to force a certain amount of disclosure so that citizens can understand where vested interests might lie, but does this really help us to discover the financial worth of the politicians here?
For a start, in Japan there is no need to disclose any bank deposits that are on call. With Japanese interest rates as they are, something like 60% Continue reading Aso’s Hidden Wealth: How “disclosure” works in Japan
It has been almost two weeks since Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suddenly resigned from office. A press conference was called suddenly, and everyone left the room more confused than when they went in. Abe was silent for over a week, and has only just come out earlier this week, saying effectively that his timing to step down was rubbish, and he for the first time apologised deeply to the nation. In the week after he quit, Abe admitted to hospital for extreme stress and fatigue. But what were the real reasons for his sudden and irresponsible departure, and what happened over his last couple of weeks? Continue reading Why The Long Face Abe-san?
Could the LDP actually lose control of the Upper house in the upcoming election on July 29? While it isn’t a no-brainer that the Democrats steal the majority from beneath Abe’s feet, it is looking more and more likely the way the latest opinion polls are lining up. For those of you who aren’t on top of the current Japanese political situation, half of the Upper House (参議院, sangiin) is up for re-election later this month. Every three years, half of the house comes up for re-election meaning the average member has a term of 6 years. Continue reading Japan Upper House Election – Who would you vote for on July 29?
Japan has drawn world attention recently due to efforts aimed at increasing her defensive and offensive military strength. Two of the strongest opponents are South Korea and China. In part due to a poor history stemming from WWII and Japan’s strong connection with America, these countries view an armed Japan as a real threat. They often cite history of the war atrocities that Japan can not be trusted with such power, where as Japan stands to reason her military build-up is only a response to the changing political climate that surrounds the island. Continue reading Warmonger! Japan’s Rearming Plans Backfire
Although Japan is clearly far behind the west in Women’s lib, the emergence of Doi Takako in the 90s and several female politicians in Koizumi’s cabinet has helped push along the plight of the average Japanese woman. But sometimes there is more to these posts than meets the eye.
Over the past two years, Noda Seiko (one of the old school LDP politicians recently who was targeted by Koizumi’s famous 刺客 assassins) has pushed forward debate about 夫婦別姓 (fufubessei, the right of a husband and wife to have different Continue reading “I take this man to be my lawfully wedded husband”… Except when politics intervenes!