Saturday, April 01, 2006

It's official - "liberal" is a dirty word

Interesting to see this only the day after listening to Condi Rice blethering about the importance of "liberal democracy" during her trip to the UK.

So the Japanese have finally realised that their ruling ("Liberal Democratic") party is not very liberal - and not before time! But rather than change their policies, they are changing their name. Apparently "liberal" doesn't convey the right sort of nationalist war-mongering image that they try to present nowadays. I could also have told them that they aren't really very democratic either, having had a one-party-rule system since the Second World War. But they are keeping that bit, becoming the "Party of Freedom Democracy." Since they are only changing the English translation of their name it's a shame they couldn't get someone to check that it actually was coherent English (it is basically a word-for-word translation of the existing Japanese)!

4 comments:

coby said...

That is pretty funny. I thought Japan was full of ESL teachers, don't they ask them for translation advice? I am used to the ridiculous "Help" guides in electronic gadgets but would have thought a case like this would be better thought through.

Canada has a good related example, the "Progressive Conservatives".

Ah, but a rose by any other name, right? It all stinks.

James Annan said...

Perhaps I should confirm that there is (as yet) no indication that this was an April Fool :-)

The quoted politician is one of the foot-in-mouth types, and it's no more bizarre than many of his other utterances.

Steve Bloom said...

What a pass we have come to when a phrase like "freedom democrascy" can be fairly conflated with war-mongering. :( But of course the Japanese ruling party has always been liberal in the original (19th C.) sense of the term. Did MacArthur approve the name?

James Annan said...

Steve,

FWIW, the LDP wasn't around in MacArthur's time, but at least one of it's ancestors, the Liberal Party, was formed in that era, so I guess he was happy enough about that.