Monday, 26 November 2012

SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS - 2012 Japan elections diary: Day 11

Click here to go to Day 1 of the 2012 Japan Election Diary.


Democracy never tasted this sickly sweet.

Sure, Our Man joined the hipsters on Twitter mocking Richy Rich Romney and decrying Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama's drone wars. Sure, he concluded that American democracy came down to a choice between Coke and Pepsi. And sure, he argued how wonderful it would be if only people had a real choice, real variety... why, just imagine what that would look like.

It would look like a Japanese drinks vending machine.

Should you go for incumbent Noda's Democratic Party of Japan's frothy cafe latte? The only problem is it's passed its sell-by date and is only served cold. Then there's that new drink in a flash container, but we're not sure what's in it. Is it a yogurt drink, good for the old tum or a dynamic sports drink? With Ishihara-Hashimoto's Japan Restoration Association Revitalising Hot Sports Yogurt Drink, it's the new flavour for all. Consume at your own risk. There are a variety of other drinks of course with appealing packaging, some calling themselves wonda or boss, but inside they are all cans of vile black coffee.

Except one.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party is a traditional green tea. You've tried it before. It's hard to recall now, but it was pretty bitter, not exactly what you were after, but it's warm and passable refreshment on a miserably wet day, given the alternatives.

And Abe's pretty bitter about the constitution. At least, that's the taste he wants to leave in your mouth. In the rabid world of blind nationalism, the one-eyed statesman is king. That is, when your biggest rival is talking about simulating nukes and is willing to push the country to the brink of war with an armed superpower over a few rocks in the middle of the ocean (yeah, it's not like they are important, like the Falklands - ed.) the least you can do is talk about revising Article 9 of the Constitution renouncing war and dropping the term "self-defence" from the Japanese armed forces. I'm not sure what Abe's getting at, but if it means a nation that can look after its own defences thank you very much America for all that you've done for the people of Okinawa, that doesn't sound so unreasonable.

As long as everyone with their fingers on the simulated button is of sound mind and body. Because, you know, Abe and the rest have learnt the lessons of history, remember?

Oh, and a Japan that can stand up for itself sure plays well on the streets. Japan is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore from a rising China and a bossy America. Just, someone has to pay for the cost of doing all that. You know, with taxes?

A simulated nuke doesn't grow on trees you know (are you sure? It might do -- ed.) and you know, if you want to keep building dams, concreting coastlines, turning the nuke plants back on it's going to take a lot more than the 5 percent sales tax increase whose passage sent the DPJ into a death spiral. You could always just print more money, I suppose. That wouldn't have any bad consequences, would it?

Our Man has tried his best to avoid talking about this general election as a horse race -- assessing who is in front, who is behind, who fell at the first fence and had to be shot and turned into glue that kindergarten kids can use to smear on old tissue boxes to cover in crepe paper to give as gift tissue boxes to their fathers who will keep them for the foreseeable future on the shelf above the washing machine as they don't have any use for tissue boxes covered in crepe paper, no matter how adorable the person who made it is -- because that can get tedious. Hey editor, do something about that sentence. Where is your red ink when it's needed? (Sorry, I'd drifted off. Have you hit your 1,000 words yet? If not, can you hurry up and get to the point please?)

Anyway, I didn't want to talk percentages, look what happened to Romney's campaign when he talked 47%, but they are unavoidable. You remember that nice Michael Thomas Cucek from the other day? Well, he has rounded up the latest opinion polls from this week (and last week in brackets). And they make for uncomfortable reading for anyone hoping for a sane, capable prime minister emerging from the electoral mash:

Kyodo

Liberal Democratic Party 19% (24%)
Democratic Party of Japan 8% (11%)
Japan Restoration Association 10% (8%)
New Komeito 4% (4%)
Your Party 3% (2%)
People's Life First 2% (1%)
Don't know 45% (43%)

What Our Man takes from these numbers:

1) Almost Romney's fabled 47% of voters are undecided. Or more accurately, they have decided that these guys are not their cup of tea.
2) The Liberal Democratic Party is unpopular, but half as unpopular as the Democratic Party of Japan.
3) The Japan Restoration Association could actually push the DPJ into third place.
4) Whoever wins will actually lose because they won't have a mandate to rule.

As a horse race, this thing is over. But as a Molotov cocktail, there are a few more ingredients to throw in the mix. Who would bet against the North Koreans lobbing a missile into the sea? Will the electorate wake up and remember how corrupt, inept the LDP were? And if they do, will they vote for the JRA? Is anyone interested in the folk still struggling to put their lives together after the tsunami? After Fukushima?

Whatever. See you at the bar, Noda. Mine's a scotch. You're paying.

This blog series
 is now a great
 book. Honest.
Cleaned up and
 all presentable,
Guts Pose: Diary of a
 Japanese election
 gone bad
features a previously
unpublished afterword
 by me and foreword
by Michael Cucek.
You can buy it here.

Go to DAY 12

2 comments:

Gavin said...

This news may make it a bit more interesting though... http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121127x1.html

"Shiga's Kada readies party; Ozawa joins"
I like Kada. She'll get the female vote and anti-Nuke vote. Shame about Ozawa though.

Our Man in Abiko said...

Ooh. Yes, this election was lacking a woman's touch. We'll see. Thanks for the link.