Click here to go to Day 1 of the 2012 Japan Election Diary.
Today began with some genuine showbiz news, rather than the daily showbiz for the ugly that is politics.
NHK, the BBC of Japan, announced it would not be featuring any South Korean pop bands on its flagship New Year's Eve reds and whites pop programme where talentless manufactured boy bands compete against talentless manufactured girl bands. But the tedious programme holds a dear place in most Japanese families' light entertainment hearts as a symbolic farewell to the year that was. It certainly is full of symbolics, and Our Man usually uses it as an excuse to go to the pub.
NHK's excuse for dropping the Koreans was "public opinion" concerns, and that K-pop bands haven't had any big hits this year. Though the Kyodo news report Our Man read cited arguments over the Takeshima/Dokudo islands, that both nations claim rights to, now that symbolic battles are still more prevalent than real ones.
Our Man's 11-year-old daughter would dispute NHK's reasons, being a fervent K-pop fan, but Our Man pleads ignorance. He can barely tell the difference between K-pop and J-pop. As far as he can tell, K-pop groups must have fewer than eight members and J-pop groups must have more. All sound the same, can't sing and... OK, OK, I am turning into my Dad. While I do talk back to greetings and thanks from automated toll gates, I haven't started driving into the country at weekends and rolling down the window to fill the car with the smell of manure to exclaim, "Ahhh, the smell of the country," quite yet. This, Our Old Man would do on trips to abandoned railway embankments to pick raspberries with my grandmother for jam and wine-making. A fond memory is of the occasion he went through two bottles of raspberry wine and the only way to get him in to bed was to cajole him in German. "Wir mussen auf die Treppe gehen!" is still about the only German I can remember to this day, thanks to him. I could go on, but there is a small chance he could read this entry, and he deserves to be immortalised in virtual print for far more worthwhile achievements than improving Our Man's schoolboy German.
Now Our Man is going to break through the fourth wall and address you directly, dispensing with the fiction that this diary is his own inner-most thoughts that he just happens to have left open on the back seat of a the double-decker bus that is the internet. The fact is that everything he writes here is informed by the knowledge that this is public. It is harder than it looks to keep the competing factions, to borrow a political metaphor, checked and balanced. How much of the personal and private should he reveal? How much fact? How much fiction? How much of the public record should he rehash? Do you really care what Our Man has to say about the goings on of the day, when he barely cares himself? All substance and no flash makes for a dull read. But all flash and no substance fails to satisfy even the lightest of appetites.
George Orwell had it right in his essay Why I Write (Google it, it's free takes about 15 minutes to read) that all folk who willingly put pen to paper are motivated to varying degrees by egotism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse and political purpose. And all these motivations are present in Our Man's virtual head. Probably.
In the end, all Our Man can do is make a decision of what to write for the day and follow it through and hope he can live with it in the morning, that you will get something from it (even though he has little idea what that could be) and his family will still talk to him at dinner. His only defences, and they are flimsy ones at that, are to wrap himself in a shroud of anonymity (although that's showing severe wear and tear) and to distance himself from the truth or dare of his words with a heavy air of irony and third person grammatical gymnastics, although he reserves the right to drop those when he feels like it. Though he really should keep it consistent for the book, I suppose (you're not making my life any easier with that sentence -- ed.) It's the only way he knows that he can tell the truth.
It may be disjointed, and make for an uneven ride when it's pasted together into a book, but if Our Man thought of the enormity of the project -- to write a book ostensibly about the Japanese election, one of many subjects he is woefully unqualified to write about but still does, he simply couldn't make it. But break the book up into manageable daily chunks, he just might be able to get to the end. And you never know, when he cuts out the crap all the chunks might make a hearty meal. Whatever. This is Our Man's diary, not George Orwell's.
Our Man is probably thinking too much (you've never been guilty of that before -- ed.) and he should take Keith Richards' advice to Pete Townsend on writing ("think less, and play your guitar more") and just get on with the show.