Friday, June 15, 2012

The Economist Magazine Praises Japan's PM Noda as Unlikely Hero for Doing What's Necessary for Japan


To the Economist reporter who wrote this, the politics in Japan today is the same as how it has existed for near-eternity - nothing but backroom bargaining between the ruling party and the opposition, occasionally enlivened by a vocal upstart (like the boy-wonder mayor of Osaka City), with the ignorant mass nervously looking in from outside to see what lot the power that be may have in store for them.

From The Economist (6/16/2012):

The unlikely Mr Noda
The prime minister has most foes on his own side

Jun 16th 2012 | TOKYO | from the print edition

UNLIKE Japan’s half-dozen recent prime ministers, many of whom were privileged offspring of earlier statesmen born for high office, Yoshihiko Noda last year came into the post unexpectedly. Despite that, and though his term may be no longer than theirs, Mr Noda is showing unexpected leadership. He may accomplish more than his recent predecessors combined.

His aim is to set an ageing, shrinking society back on course, after it was shaken by the disasters of last year. He is guided by the conviction that he must salvage the public finances, by doubling the consumption (sales) tax to 10%. The problem is that his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) promised, during the election campaign that led to it overturning five decades of rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 2009, not to raise taxes. Mr Noda is seen as a traitor by those who stand by the campaign promises.

Worse, Mr Noda has courted powerful bureaucrats and the LDP-led opposition that controls the upper house of the Diet (parliament). In other words, he governs as LDP prime ministers used to. People in both camps find that hard to take. But most in the LDP know that the public would treat their party with even greater disdain if it now opposed a tax it was the first to promote. Both camps also fear the maverick mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, who is contemplating the launch of a national anti-establishment movement. In effect, he is pushing the LDP into bed with Mr Noda.

The opposition and government now seem set to do a deal to raise the tax in stages in 2014 and 2015. Then, in a Diet session extended by perhaps a month, they will try to decide how to spend the ¥13.5 trillion ($175 billion) it will raise each year. Under LDP pressure, Mr Noda is also backtracking from the more unworkable campaign promises on pensions, child care and help for the poor.

The prime minister is also staking his reputation on a second belief, that Japan needs to restart some of its nuclear reactors to prevent the economy being crippled by energy shortages. (All 54 of them were shut down, at a time of high anti-nuclear feeling, following the Fukushima disaster.) Here, too, Mr Noda is co-operating with the LDP: an independent nuclear regulator is likely to be proposed soon. That will give him some cover to announce the restarting of the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture, which powers the Kansai industrial region of which Osaka is the heart.

But what happens after that? Mr Noda seems safe from internal opposition for the moment. His chief foe within the party is Ichiro Ozawa, who has cast a longer political shadow over the past two decades than anyone. But Mr Ozawa’s fortunes fell this week when it emerged that his wife had written to his closest supporters about his two mistresses and his illegitimate child but, more crucially, had berated her husband for taking months to visit the disaster-affected areas of Iwate, his home prefecture.

The public standing of the prime minister’s other foe, Mr Hashimoto, may have also peaked. The combative mayor is now having to make compromises that undermine his outsider status. He is backing away from a fervently anti-nuclear stance and he needs to mollify politicians in Tokyo to get their backing for sweeping administrative changes in Osaka. Local spending cuts are also harming his popularity.

Back in Tokyo, some members of the opposition think that they can do business right through till next summer with the best prime minister the LDP never had. In effect, a kind of “grand coalition”, long favoured by the elites but always rejected by voters, would be at work. Mr Noda may prefer to see his twin aims passed into law and then call a snap election. On current form, he would lose. But it is when Mr Noda seems to care least about his own survival—and perhaps his party’s—that he is most effective.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the nukes restart, it will be over for Japan after the next meltdowns. Thousands of years and it will come to this if the reactors restart.
Now is the time to stand up Japan! Wake up!

kintaman said...

Because....Japan is a democracy you see.

Anonymous said...

The bloke who wrote this economist article is a total fucking idiot, no idea what really is going on in japan...

Beppe said...

Whoever wrote this article is not mentioning that anti nuclear feeling in Japan is STILL sky high; had he mentioned this the whole article would take a totally different flavour.

Anonymous said...

Blech. The whole thing makes me ill. They don't have their heads in the sand... they have it up a lower part of their anatomy. Anyone who lives in Japan (as I do) realizes that this is a government that has no clue how fucked up the situation is and how dumb starting up the nukes again is. History will treat them with utter contempt.

Anonymous said...

I want to know more about the mistresses and child. Also, I'm glad you brought Ultraman back but what happened to the link for the Obammy tzars?

Anonymous said...

Oh, the 8am post is from Smoking Caster.

Anonymous said...

The Economist Magazine Praises Japan's PM Noda as Partner in Crime for Pocketing Nuclear Industry Bribes Alongside Itself at the Expense of Global Safety.

*fixed

Anonymous said...

For the writer's next story on Japan, can I suggest an analysis of the costs of misinforming 127,000,000 people about the dangers of low-dose radiation and then allowing them to raise there children in radioactive environments that would qualify as Radiological Controlled Areas in the US, feeding them food that would have qualified as radioactive waste under Japan's prior definitions of radioactive waste, and burning other radioactive waste in incinerators located in the most densely populated urban areas.

How many cancers will Noda's and the DPJ's policies have caused? How much will each cancer cost in medical costs? in lost productivity? social disruption? pain and suffering of victims and survivors?

TEPCO's lack of safety culture and clear negligence led to the nuclear disaster. The Japanese nuclear industry asserted excessive influence on politicians and regulators, to the point that they destroyed society's ability to effectively regulate the activities of their companies and their peers (big mistake guys - TEPCO has killed you all now). LDP policies allowed the NISA to be captured by the nuclear industry. The IAEA ignored this collusion.

Kan's administration failed to release information needed for the population to quickly evacuate from areas down-wind of the TEPCO disaster site.

But NODA and his DPJ minions have completely mismanaged the containment and clean up effort. Their policies in the aftermath of the TEPCO disaster have not only failed to contain and reduce the damage to victims, but have instead spread the damage and greatly increased the number of potential victims, all the while TERRORIZING those of us who can understand what they have been doing.

And all this damage, mind you, is assuming that their mismanagement of the TEPCO disaster site cleanup does not result in a collapse or catastrophic leak of SFP4.

No, there is a place in history for Noda, but it is not the place of a hero. It is Noda who is presiding over the destruction of one of the greatest and long-lived societies on earth, a country that had survived over 2700 years, over 2650 of these without nuclear power. History will remember Noda, but it will not be so kind as the Economist.

Steveo said...

F nuke

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