Category Archives: Japan: Politics

A Vote in Favour of a Tighter Immigration Policy?

Shintaro Ishihara (石原慎太郎) after winning the
Tokyo Governor’s Election on Sunday

After eight years in the limelight as the governor of Tokyo it seems that 74 year old Shintaro Ishihara (石原慎太郎) has once again been successful in winning the hearts of the Tokyo tomin (都民, citizens). Despite the fact that 73% of Tokyo’s registered voting population (*) did not vote for him, Ishihara is beginning his third (and apparent final) period in Nishi-Shinjuku. Besides more overseas trips for his wife and job offers for his sons, what does that mean for us, the gaijin population of Tokyo? I happened to be walking through the streets of Shinbashi (新橋) on the weekend and stumbled across Ishihara’s campaign office so I decided to invite myself in for a fact finding mission. Although I didn’t buy one of the 200 yen pro-Ishihara arm bands, I did ask a few questions on behalf of Continue reading A Vote in Favour of a Tighter Immigration Policy?

The “Yōkoso Japan!” Hoppōryōdo Conspiracy

The old Yokoso Japan LogoToday, through our contact page, a reader (of course we will keep anonymity at their request) sent us some interesting trivia that was just too juicy for him (or her) to keep to him(or her)self. After some research, and a call to a friend on the inside to verify the claim, it proved far too tasty a morsel of information to go unannounced to the gaijin community at large.

You may have noticed the “Yokoso! Japan” logo in various places around Japan (on airplanes, maps, etc.). This is part of the Japanese government’s Visit Japan Campaign. I know, I know, old news so far, but bear with me. Continue reading The “Yōkoso Japan!” Hoppōryōdo Conspiracy

Diving in the Heart of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

wrecksmallDespite being the founding member of the diving club, I have a confession to make: I’m a complete and absolute “resort diver.” Although in my younger, delinquent days I was silly enough to wander into the miso soup-esque waters of Izu, I now exclusively dive in tropical waters where it’s even warm in the rain and the visibility is great all year round. Yes, that means that I don’t dive in Japan. (If you think that I’m being a little shortsighted, feel free to suggest any “must dive” Japanese sites in the comment section below.)

Because most nice dive locations are hard to get to, the only real chances for me to getaway are Golden week and Oshogatsu. This Christmas was no exception and I’ve just come back from a relaxing two week break in Palau. I had never heard of Palau before I began diving, but it is a small republic (the youngest member of the UN) off the coast of the Philippines. Amongst divers, Palau is often referred to as one of Continue reading Diving in the Heart of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

The Rise of Patriotism, Ishihara, and the Mini-Skirt Right Wing

An ad for the video and DVD for the documentary film Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office on Sept 26th and less than 2 months later, on Friday November 17th, an education reform bill reforming the Fundamental Law of Education was cleared by the Lower House and has now progressed to the Upper House. This bill is backed by Shinzo’s government raising the fears of liberals that patriotism may become law in Japan’s schools. A move long awaited by the Mini-skirt Right Wing! (their promotional video pictured here)

Although the wording excludes the direct use of the word patriotism, the bill specifies the need for students to love the nation and homeland. The larger point, however, is that legislation to such an extent gives the central government the go-ahead for complete control over Japan’s education system. This appears to be a move towards fascism. No Mussolini-type figures are in sight at this stage but this is a move worth scrutinizing as, blind allegiance to any group, code or country, robs individuals of their intellectual capabilities to analyse the morality of the actions being asked of them. The worst actions can suddenly become justified if it demonstrates loyalty to the group. Continue reading The Rise of Patriotism, Ishihara, and the Mini-Skirt Right Wing

Japan’s New Finance Minister

kojiomi.jpgMr. Koji Omi, the new Finance Minister of Japan in the Abe government, judging first from the fact that he’s not a graduate of the University of Tokyo, that has heretofore supplied Japan with the bureaucrats that begat the deflation of the late ’90s and early ’00s, we might have a good thing. From his first few comments too, he seems to be on the right track… and this despite the fact that he has been a lifelong civil servant, having left university and having gone directly into the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, where he spent a goodly portion of his early career, and then when he went into the Diet back in ’83, where he’s held a seat ever since. Continue reading Japan’s New Finance Minister

Who is the New Prime Minister of Japan?

Shinzo AbeMr. Shinzo Abe turns out to be a surprisingly interesting guy a very brief review of his history turns up that Mr. Abe is from a very long line of very successful and very well connected Japanese politicians. His grandfather, on his mother’s side, was Mr. Nobusuke Kishi, who served during the Second World War in the Emperor’s Cabinet, was imprisoned for (but never found guilty of) war crimes. The elder Mr. Kishi then became an important post-War political figure, and rose to the Prime Minister’s post in 1957. Mr. Kishi was, by all accounts, the quintessential Japanese post-war Prime Minister: a finder/builder of consensus; a non-maker of new policies. However, its understood that Mr. Kishi’s imprisonment left a very real impression upon his grandson. Prime Minister Abe’s father was Shintaro Abe, one of the most successful of Japanese political figures during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Continue reading Who is the New Prime Minister of Japan?

Koizumi, Yasukuni, War Veterans and Respecting the Dead…

Koizumi at Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社)Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a week ago paid homage to Japan’s World War II dead at the Yasukuni Shrine, drawing South Korea’s and China’s condemnation, which was heightened by the date of his visit – the anniversary of Japan’s surrender. Despite repeated protests from Beijing and Seoul, Koizumi kept a promise to make a sixth pilgrimage as premier to the shrine – which honours Japan’s 2.8 million war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals – before he steps down next month. The visit was the first made in 21 years by a prime minister on the anniversary of the war’s 1945 end, which is remembered in Japan as a defeat but which South Korea celebrates as Liberation Day after it and China both suffered under Japan’s often-brutal wartime occupation.

That colonial past has worsened relations between Tokyo and the two countries, and the shrine and Koizumi’s visits there have brought charges from Seoul and Beijing that they glorify Japan’s past military aggression and imperialism.

Continue reading Koizumi, Yasukuni, War Veterans and Respecting the Dead…