Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vice Prime Minister/Finance Minister Taro Aso Strikes Again: "Keep TEPCO Alive to Keep Electricity Coming"

Mr. Taro Aso (pictured here, one of his better ones - probably the best one I've seen), elite fifth-generation politician and Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister in the Abe administration, is well-known for his very candid remarks.

The last I heard him say was "Learn from Nazis" on how to change the Constitution on stealth.

From unabashedly pro-LDP Sankei Shinbun (11/1/2013):


During the press conference after the cabinet meeting on November 1, Finance Minister Taro Aso commented on the proposal approved by LDP's Headquarters for Accelerating Reconstruction from Great East Japan Earthquake to inject the government money in decontamination, and said "Unless we properly keep the company of TEPCO alive, no electricity will come. We will consider (injecting the government money) given such circumstances," indicating his favorable stance [on injecting the government money in decontamination].

Isn't the name great? "Headquarters for Accelerating Reconstruction from Great East Japan Earthquake"? (My translation, though, not official.) This administration sure likes talking about "accelerating" and "ahead of schedule" particularly when they are not the ones who actually do anything.

But what Aso says sounds all too familiar. Where have I heard this before?

Most recently, it was September/October 2008. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson threatened the Congress and American people with the immediate collapse of the US and global financial system unless they were given 700 billion dollars of taxpayers' money so that they could "save" the some of the world largest banks and financial institutions who had made many billions creating the housing bubble with the Fed and the government and busting the bubble, selling financial shenanigans like MBS (mortgage-backed securities many of which turned out to be backed by no mortages), CDOs (square and cube included), CDS (credit default swap), etc., thanks in part to very lax oversight by the government regulators.

"It would be very inconvenient if there was no bank, wouldn't you agree?"

That was the message by the powerful duo, and that was what the media hyped at that time to pressure the Congress to do what Ben and Hank were saying. (It was in fact more like the foul messenger from Mordor, visiting the Dwarf King and offering friendship and wealth in exchange for information of Bilbo Baggins - "But refuse, things will not be so well. Do you refuse?")

Still, the House of Representatives dare voted down, and they duly punished them by tanking the stock market. (Instead of PPT, plunge protection team, it was PT, plunge team, in those days.) The House of Representatives folded in the second vote.

Going back in Japanese history, I have heard the similar story over Chisso, the company that polluted the Minamata bay with mercury. To pay compensations to the mercury-poisoning victims (the company and the government fought hard against), Chisso was kept alive as a corporation, instead of being declared bankrupt and having shareholders and debt holders take the hit. The national and local governments injected money into the company so that the company could keep making profit to pay the victims.

Just like Wall Street banks in 2008 and TEPCO today, taxpayers ended up paying for the mistakes of Chisso and failure of the governments to properly regulate the company.

History does repeat, even if no one pays attention.


Anonymous said...

One day after the quake, we talked about the situation with a French friend who specializes in Japanese photography from 1945. He told me a plant was on fire already, and added : it will be another Minamata...

Vyse Legendaire said...

Because you've gotta keep those shareholders happy. Even if it brings about an ecological and human holocaust.

Anonymous said...

Vyse Legendaire

your profile is a bit short. You may have your reasons for that.

mine is

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Anon at 8:40 AM
yes Ihreard that this summer from Japanese friends , Asshole.

Somewhow, Japan is still alive isn't it ?

Anonymous said...

He must mean learn from Nasa and their moonrocks.

Anonymous said...

History is doomed to repeat itself as long as humans are stupid, selfish, greedy, arrogant and fail at passing down and learning from memories and knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Let me try again...

So have Chisso victims been fairly compensated? or was it just wasted money?

If Tepco goes bankrupt its plants and workers can be picked up by Kepco, Tokyo Gas, Chubu Electric, Tohoku Electric and they will generate electricity while investors rethink the wisdom of investing in nuclear power. Preventing Tepco from failing is yet another subsidy to nuclear industry.


Anonymous said...

By the way, the Abe government *is* changing the [interpretation of] the war renouncing Japanese Constitution.
Less freedom of press, more "flexible" working contracts, more taxes, more useless public works seem to be on their way too.

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