Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Another from the department of "you couldn't make it up"

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Saturday formally announced his intention to retire from politics and said he will not run in the next House of Representatives election.

Koizumi, 66, also named his second son and secretary, 27-year-old Shinjiro Koizumi, as his heir apparent to the Kanagawa No. 11 district.

Koizumi did acknowledge criticism about giving his political base to his son, saying, ‘‘I too was criticized for being a third-generation politician. However, no-one will be able to accuse my son of such a short pedigree.’’

Shinjiro is now 33rd in line to the throne Prime Minister's Office and his inauguration is scheduled for early 2045.

[Editor's note: not all of the above is strictly true. Scarily, most of it is.]


Unknown said...

Bizarre really, even in view of
my previous comment.

If Jun-Ichiro quietly retires, and his supporters first disagree about the next candidate, and then his sun emerges as the least troublesome choice, then that is normal affairs in Japan nowadays.

But the behaviour of Jun-Ichiro himself this time is ... (I do not have a word).

Also bizarre is the high ratio of sons and daughters of politicians among Aso's Cabinet, even considering the recent trends.

Unknown said...

Another bizarre thing in Japan:

As far as I see in blogs reachable from Google search, skeptics to the science of global warming in Japan are more likely than othersise to be (self-purported) liberal thinkers, contrary to the case in the USA.

They accuse something like "eco-fascism" (or "eco-yokusankai taisei" using the Japanese term of the war time) prevalent in the current journalsm. (Here "eco" stands for ecology, though some use it to mean economy.)

Though I do not agree with them, I understand their fears as they hear from nearly all mass media saying "generally" the same message as the goverment does. (From my viewpoint the messages are not so uniform. But the difference may be difficult to discern by non-scientists.)

Usually journalism in Japan tends to be "right" and "left" apart. Since the governing party has been basically conservative, usually "left" media tend to be critical to it. Sometimes when the goverment takes "welfare state" policy, "right" media provoke the argument of "small government". The general agreement of "left" and "right" media about the issue of climate change may sound alarming enough to critical people. Perhaps they feel that oppsisitons are suppressed, though their opinions have outlets in, beside blogs, magazine articles and paperback books which seem to be sold well.

Unknown said...

Excuse me for continuing lengthy off-topic comments. I feel I should have my own blog, but I have not decided what language I should mainly use there. Do you read it if I write in Japanese in Roman letters? (I guess that James will, but regular readers here won't.)

I think that the apparent homogeneity of the mainstream mass media in recent Japan is not particular to the issue of climate change.

It is related to the shift of weight among mass media from newspapers to TV networks. Newspapers can be partisan, and even the biggest newspapers of Japan show different political opinions from each other. But TV stations must not be partisan -- so defined by law in Japan. Also, it happened that all privately owned TV stations rely on the same set of sponsors (rather than divided into rival conglomerates). Then comes the "national" mentality of the Japanese. TV stations try to compete each other on the same ground, so they imitate each other and try to achieve marginal merit above their peers. They do not want to look diametrically different from their peers. I do not mean that every Japanese has this mentality, but just that many groups of us tend to have. And in the case of private TV stations, unlike newspapers, this attitude prevails very much. (Actually I do not watch TV other than NHK so much, so this is largely a guess based on indirect information.)

This kind of homogeneity appeared when Koizumi paranoidly promoted the single issue of privatization of the post office. Then, the majority of mass media dismissed oppositions to his policy as just special interest groups of the ancien-regime.

The attitude of mass media toward Abe (especially his defense policy) was partisan and not uniform. But then it seemed obvious to all media that LDP's economic policy (mainly during Koizumi's times) did more harm than good. So, I think, the media lead the people to the defeat of LDP at the election of the Upper House. Thus, the entire sphere of Japanese journalsm makes "whiplash", not only in scientific issues as discussed by Andrew Revkin. And it resulted in a "staggered" parliament where the two houses always disagree and no substantial decision can be settled.

NHK (a public broadcasting corporation) is somewhat different from other media. Its producers partly work in their own proud way, and partly look at BBC as its primary "peer". They did make documentaries critical to the policy of current government even in Koizumi's times, though they were often aired at midnight rather than prime hours.

In the case of the global warming issue, the official words of the government under Abe and Fukuda quickly approached the words of NHK and of news casters of private TV stations which previously seemed critical. So the apparent homogeneity resulted. Some literate critiques say that this sounds like fascism. Some seem to seriously think that this is just another phase of whiplash and that it will be replaced by a campaign about global cooling or some other kind of calamity within a decade.

But, from my point of view, the content of private TV stations is still dominated by commercial messages of business-as-usual, or of "waste makers" as Vance Packard quipped around 1960. The "litany" (as Lomborg calls) of "Save the environment" is still a weaker message, and the affairs of the media sphere is very far from dominance of eco-fascism, I think.

James Annan said...


I'm sure your thoughts would be read by many more if you wrote a blog (in any language) rather than commenting on mine!

I don't watch TV, but I find the Japanese press (in English translation) to be extremely bland, homogeneous and uncritical. Well, they criticise sometimes. Perhaps unimaginative is more accurate. Maybe it is only the mainstream stuff gets translated though.

EliRabett said...

To Masuta san, Eli would say do both. To James, how does this differ from Chicago politics?

LuboŇ° Motl said...

Koizumi also donated a new ambassador to the Czech Republic to the ex Czech prime minister.