Monday, February 03, 2014

Abe Shinzo And The Right, Rightly

Trending: "Japan tilting/turning/sliding to the right in an alarming way"

Example #1

Example #2

Example #3

Example #4


Japan is probably not shifting, tilting, sliding, skipping, turning cartwheels or anything else to the right. If that were so, we would see hatred of "foreigners" irrespective of origins. Try as one might, one will find little evidence of generalized increased hatred toward non-Japanese. Antipathy and empathy fatigue are focused on two national groups, Chinese and South Koreans, and is it not even an ethnic disdain: Chinese and South Korean tourists are portrayed as a huge and vital business opportunity. (Link - J)

As for remilitarization, Japan presently spends around 1% of GDP on defense. After the Abe military build up, Japan will be spending...approximately 1% of GDP on defense. Do not even get me started on where in an Aging Japan the government is going to find enough youngsters to meet its force recruitment goals.

As for Abe's Yasukuni visit on December 26, he put off his annual visit until the morning of the one year anniversary of his election as prime minister. He was and is going to make visits on an annual basis. Let us take some solace in his having waited until the very last moment.

So what about the secrecy law, the appointment of mediocrity Momii Katsuto as the head of NHK, wannabe fixer Watanabe Tsuneo as the head of the commission on the secrecy law, Education Minister Shimomura Hakubun's new suggestions on what language teachers should use when talking about the Senkakus and Dokdo -- is it not all of a pattern?


But the pattern is not one of a shift to the right.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's cronies are getting greedy, grabbing for stuff the public is not quite ready to cede to them, and which the public may never be willing to cede to them. These cronies are rightists, if by rightist you mean skeptical of/loathing China, tired of Japan's having World War II hung around its neck forever (and no, these cronies do not understand why persons hanging World War II around Japan's neck is possible) and pugnaciously defensive of a Japaneseness they alone can define.

It would be foolish for Abe, his sycophants and puppeteers to think the public is not aware of this piggishness and is not marking down in a ledger all the reasons it should not trust Abe and Friends.

The public has been exceedingly and aberrantly supportive of the Abe Cabinet and the Liberal Democratic Party. This support, however, does not evolve out of love for Abe policies, other than for the extremely activist and liberal (and contrary to longtime LDP theories on the national debt) macroeconomic program. According to the polls, the second most popular reason for supporting the Abe Cabinet, after the economic program, is "Because there is no appropriate alternative ready to step in."

Look around the political landscape of Japan today: to say that "there is no other appropriate person" ready to take Abe's place is really not that bizarre.

So "greedy Friends of Abe" + "liberal economics" + "little hope for anyone better" is supposed to equal "a shift to the right"?

I hope that that is not the math.


Pete Larson said...

In reading the four examples you have here, I am thinking that Western Media outlets are somewhat unfamiliar with Japan's history. I don't think there's been a major shift to the right, so much as a potential realization of goals which have existed for decades. With the exception of some economic loosening there isn't much in Abe-tati's outlook that's all that new.

A.J. Sutter said...

Forget what foreign journalists say. In most states that call themselves democracies, when the head of government and leader of his party

@ rams through a vague bill that (i) allows the government to hide its misdeeds, (ii) creates criminal penalties for journalists and elected members of the legislature who try to bring those misdeeds to light, (iii) denies even judges to be informed what "secrets" a defendant is alleged to have misappropriated, in a criminal case, (iv) is broad enough to allow the covering-up of the arrest of political opponents as "terrorists," -- I could add: (v) cynically appoints the most ignorant member of the Cabinet to field all parliamentary questions during the truncated "debate" on the bill, and no doubt a few more -- all despite the outcry of the public and legal and constitutional scholars;

@ does not object when a powerful official in his party calls peaceful demonstrators against that bill "terrorists"

@ elevates to public office persons who deny (contrary to documented history) that human rights are part of the national culture;

@ propounds a draft constitution expressly based on the same theory about human rights;

@ pressures the public broadcaster, funded by mandatory levies on all households, to support the government's position on all significant issues, or else to omit mention of issues sensitive for the government;

@ goes full-throttle on neoliberal policies that increase income inequality (whence, among other things, the "infatuation" with equity markets you mention in a subsequent blog post); and

@ under the guise of supporting working women, proposes a law that would allow them to take care of children for an three years (an unusually long time by international standards), but omits to enact or enforce laws against gender discrimination in hiring, or to create public child care available to all households -- with the net effects of (i) deceiving some women voters that the party's policies are good for them, and at the same time (ii) actually reducing hiring of women, if his proposed law were to pass;

this would be called a shift to the right.

The fact that rampant xenophobia and a war haven't been added to the mix doesn't redeem this government or this leader. That this government and PM are "greedy" for power may help to explain why all this is happening now rather than under an earlier Jimintou administration, but it's not a sufficient characterization of the changes since 2012 December. The key point is that all this is happening now.

Robert Dujarric said...

One possibility for dealing with the dearth of young men and women to recruit for the armed forces would be to raise a Japanese Foreign Legion.

John said...

Of course increased economic inequality might provide a larger pool of young men with nothing better to do than join the army.