Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Economist Magazine: Masuzoe's Win Means the Abe Administration Will Restart Nuclear Power Plants as Early as This Summer

The magazine says former Prime Minister Hosokawa backed by former Prime Minister Koizumi could have dealt "the biggest blow" to Prime Minister Abe and pro-nuclear LDP, but votes were drawn away by a socialist lawyer Utsunomiya (who came in the distant second). The magazine also predicts Governor Masuzoe will be known to the outside world on the single issue: his misogyny.

That's vastly different from the naïve and happy narratives that are circulating right now inside Japan, one day after the election. Some of the narratives are:

It's just a local election after all, and the governorship is not about overall energy policies but about local, "main street" issues like social welfare and taking care of the socially weak and creating jobs for the young. [As I wrote in the previous post, this view is shared by LDP, right-wing think tanks, Social Dems and Communist Party.]

Nuclear issues should not be on the forefront anyway, and it was Koizumi's gravest mistake to put them forward. Tokyo residents were smarter than Koizumi and knew what the real issues were.

Masuzoe won by a big margin because of his meticulously crafted policies that persuaded Tokyo residents to vote for him, and he will be a great governor to make Tokyo "No.1 city in the world".
[Never mind that only a handful of citizens bothered to attend his speeches during the campaign.]

Mr. Utsunomiya has "won" by defeating Hosokawa/Koizumi, and that's great for the anti-nuclear movement by ordinary citizens.

Never mind that Mr. Utsunomiya hardly increased his votes this time from his disastrous previous election result in 2012. For him and Communist Party who backed him, it's a great win because together they defeated the conservative LDP prime minister (Koizumi) who had defeated Communist Party's objections in Koizumi's signature "structural reform" when Koizumi was the Prime Minister in the first half of 2000s.

Hosokawa's votes seem to have entirely come from those who had voted for Naoki Inose in 2012, who was also backed by LDP. Thus the lament from anti-nuclear people who supported Hosokawa this time despite the differences in issues outside nuclear: "If only Mr. Utsunomiya had stepped down." (And if only it hadn't snowed, of course.)

But I digress. Here's The Economist's view of the election (2/9/2014; emphasis is mine):

Tokyo’s gubernatorial election

Powering on

FOR a brief few weeks the millions of Japanese who do not love Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, had reason to hope. The combination of Morihiro Hosokawa and Junichiro Koizumi, two former premiers, entered the race for governor of Tokyo with a resonant campaign cry; to steer Japan rapidly towards zero nuclear power. With Mr Koizumi backing Mr Hosokawa’s candidacy, it seemed possible that he might deliver the biggest blow to Mr Abe and his pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since their return to power in December 2012. But on February 9th those hopes melted away as quickly as the snow which had blanketed Tokyo on the eve of the vote. The race was won handily by Yoichi Masuzoe (pictured right, on the campaign trail with Mr Abe, left), a former health minister backed by the LDP, according to projections from NHK, the national broadcaster.

The result’s chief significance is that it clears the way for Mr Abe to press ahead with switching on some of Japan’s idled nuclear reactors, possibly as early as this summer. The crusade by the ever-popular Mr Koizumi, just under three years on from the 2011 catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, had unnerved his former party. In the election for the upper house of parliament in July 2013, Tokyo elected two vehemently anti-nuclear MPs, showing the strength of opposition. Yet the anti-nuclear camp remained divided for the governor’s race. A socialist lawyer, Kenji Utsunomiya, who also opposed a return to nuclear, drew away votes from Mr Hosokawa. Turnout was low, owing to the snow.

Mr Koizumi will hardly give up his campaign. He is now likely to ally with figures who can pack a weightier punch than the elderly Mr Hosokawa, who is descended from a line of feudal lords. Hirohiko Izumida, the governor of Niigata prefecture, for example, is another key foe of nuclear restarts. The LDP itself now contains many more people who question the country’s former reliance on nuclear power than in the past. Yet the Tokyo election shows that the anti-nuclear vote is neither overwhelming in size nor easily mobilised, even by a political superstar.

The LDP reluctantly backed Mr Masuzoe amid a dearth of strong candidates; he had walked out of the party in 2010. During the campaign he emphasised local matters such as social welfare and the hosting of the Olympics in 2020. Yet he starts his governorship of the gleaming megalopolis with the outside world focused on one characteristic; his reputation for misogyny. When Tokyo women called on Twitter for a "sex strike" against men voting for Mr Masuzoe, the media tuned in. More than two decades ago, then a political scientist, he told a magazine that women are unfit for high political office because they menstruate.

While Mr Masuzoe’s comment, exhumed from 1989, met with radical counter-action, the rightwing ravings of Toshio Tamogami, another of the four leading candidates, attracted little censure. Mr Tamogami was sacked in 2008 as the chief of Japan’s air force for writing, among other things, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt deliberately tricked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbour. Mr Abe should go once a month to the controversial Yasukuni shrine, he declared during the campaign, until China and South Korea finally get tired of complaining. One of Mr Tamogami’s supporters, Naoki Hyakuta, a member of the board of NHK, this week declared to voters that the Nanjing massacre of Chinese civilians by Japanese soldiers in late 1937 “never happened”. All in all, not an election to be proud of.

Not an election to be proud of. Not indeed.

However, The Economist is wrong if it really thinks Masuzoe's 1989 comment was "met with radical counter-action". Only the tabloid newspapers carried the story, and the mainstream newspapers and TV stations didn't say a word


Hikarius said...

I am of the opinion that Utsunomiya should not get in the race this time in the first place. Even though Hosokawa was still far from an ideal candidate, his combination with Koizumi gave rise of a new opportunity not only to the anti-nuclear movement (by attracting support from the conservative camp) but also to the future of Japan overall (according to Shinji Miyadai).

Another piece of insider story about Utsunomiya

Anonymous said...

Hikarius, I totally agree. But Utsunomiya and his backers including Communist Party are on the roll, in their mind. His distant 2nd-place "win" over Hosokawa means to them that he and his supporters will have years and years of "fighting for beyond nuclear" for the rest of us.

Hikarius said...

One may say that "under a democratic system, citizens cannot get a leader that's better than they deserve," or, rephrasing sociologically, "without virtues of citizenship, institutional justice alone is not sufficient to achieve a better society." I start to think if there's any cultural reasons behind the deficiency of democracy, not only in Japan alone, but in (the most part of) East Asia.

Anonymous said...

all in all, not a country to be proud of...

Hank said...

At the rate in which these manipulated figureheads have been getting exchanged in & out of puppet office, much less the unprecedentedly-open identical intentions & 'priorities' between "opposing" politicians, it certainly seems more & more glaring that it doesn't matter WHO is placed-not-elected in this corrupt role, as the ultimate outcomes for Japan's near-future over the next 10 years will be same, regardless. Most unfortunately. But, who is doing what to change it, now? None.

Anonymous said...

...Not that North America or any other so-called major country of the West, is any more worthy of being proud of. "Democracy"? Like freedom, equality, liberty, and rights, just words made meaningless by politics, and words are like wind. It's not cultural, it's the human condition which has already failed past the point of no return, across the world, gullibility and lethargy...

Anonymous said...

Hikarius, some French intellectuals - democrats - lament on the fate of democracy : it is there, and then becomes a "consumer democracy" - people requiring selfish "rights" and ignoring the rest of the world or looking at it with despise : gender, intelligence, skills, courage, ability for success, as just socialy induced and unfair caracteritics. (Their question being : is democracy doomed to weakness and shambles ? )
It seems the problem is actually a breakdown of virtue, not in a moral sense, but in the old Latin sense, quite close to what you call virtues of citizenship ; a sense of righteous balance in one's relation to society, towards a "good" society.

By the way, I wonder how trustable Koizumi / Hosokawa's plans to get rid of nuclear power are. Promises are easy, dificult to keep, and hold only for those who believe in them.

Hank said...

Well-said, 'Anonymous' @ 6:13 AM in particular regards to the old Latin sense of virtue, and its breakdown

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:13AM, after watching several live feeds of their campaign speeches, I do believe they are genuine. Many doubted them in the beginning, and Utsunomiya supporters mounted a campaign to discredit them because they were former prime ministers of pro-nuclear conservative parties.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 5:55 AM
" .. just words made meaningless by politics .. It's not cultural, it's the human condition which has already failed past the point of no return, across the world, gullibility and lethargy... [and dim-wittedness]"

A culture of Entitledness is what Toshio Tamogami is essentially fronting. No one in Tamogami's presence when uttering such statements about "trickery" felt it apporopriate to ask why the Japanese of that time felt entitled to invade countries to take by force materiel that normal business should acquire? Implicit agreement that the Japanese were somehow more rightfully entitled to the resources?

And so it develops that a further program of "trickery" is initiated by Tamogami's like after parameters are agreed upon that, Yes, that is the form it has taken and now will continue to take ..

A "baseless rumor" that "they" could see the forest for the trees.

A Game for Retards, certainly cultural and certainly based on "entitledness" as aggression.

Anonymous said...

Hikarius, I read your link to the insider story. I felt like I was looking into a small, mean, petty world where people fight over smallest of differences. Now I understand what Utsunomiya's supporters are doing right now. They want those intellectuals who dare supported Hosokawa to "re-educate" themselves and repent. Good old Communist style.

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