Thursday, 13 December 2012

GUTS POSE -- Japan Election Diary 2012: DAY 27

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

Another day, another nuclear scare in Abiko. I didn't know until after tucking in to tan-tan spicy ramen at lunch that the North Koreans had fired off a rocket that morning. I breathlessly (with a mouthful of noodles) went though my Twitter feed on my phone and learnt that our problem neighbours had launched a rocket (if you believe it has civilian purposes) or missile (if it's military) and it apparently flew over Japanese airspace in Okinawa on the way to its conquest of space.

The Japanese Defence Minister reckoned our neighbours hadn't put a satellite in orbit, the American NORAD folks said they had. Whatever the truth of the matter, I wouldn't advise cancelling cable for it anytime soon. Then my fried rice came and I lost track of the missile on Twitter. I perhaps shouldn't be so dismissive of the development that will no doubt be the splash in the Yomiuri Shimbun and my Japan Times tomorrow, not to mention the subject of some predictable op-eds in a few days arguing for some implausible solution while Japan plays helpless and the United States government claims the moral high ground. Their rockets are missiles and our missiles are rockets, remember? Anyway, I wanted to know: how would it affect the election? Would Abe and Ishihara's assertive policies play better to the electorate given the North Koreans' provocative act? Did this set meal come with fried rice and gyoza dumplings or just fried rice?

I remember my mother-in-law running to the window to see if she could glimpse the missile flying over the Lawson's convenience store after watching a TV news report about one of Kim Jong Il's rockets readying on the launch pad. That was some time back before the earthquake, but these days, given the choice of North Korean storyline of evil geniuses bent on world domination or bumbling despots who can't even feed or clothe their own people, I'm tempted to go with the latter. Besides, you don't have to be much of a betting man to know which is more likely: one of their missiles actually hitting Tokyo, or one of our nuke plants melting down. We know how that story ends.

Forget the fireworks. What about something real?


Our Man in Abiko: In your activities as head honcho of It's Not Just Mud, do you have much to do  with politicians?

Jamie El Banna: As little as possible. I've met a few mayors and people from city hall etc, but that's about it. And even that is too much for my liking. There's just no real benefit for me to talk to or try and ask for help from such people, and I'm not fond of fruitless efforts, so why bother? I like people of action, and there're precious few politicians/people in authority who fit that bill. The mayor of Ofunato is nice though. The Ishinomaki mayor is pretty useless.

OMIA: That's odd. We get the image that these local pols are heroically battling against the odds to help their communities. This isn't the reality? Haven't any national pols visited Ishinomaki to survey damage etc?

JEB: Battling against the odds? What's that mean? You mean battling against the reality of life post disaster? Nothing heroic about that, everyone is having to do that. The reality is that there are only a handful of local politicians who have general approval from their respective communities. The usual election posters are up, but it's even more nauseating than usual. Imagine middle-aged men striking a fighting pose, with a messages akin to "I will lead us to the new tomorrow". Puke.
National politicians? I'm sure plenty have been to various areas for photo ops. Oh sorry, to "survey".

OMIA: In what ways are people still suffering? Is there any sense that the authorities will have things under control, or are they part of the problem?

JEB: Well for most people the future is a scary thing. People still feel like they don't know what's going on, or how long they will be in temporary housing for. Most of the suffering is emotional. While things are in control, they are, at the same time, not so much. That uncertain future makes things feel like no-one knows what's going on.


From Wikipedia:

The fist pump is a celebratory gesture in which a fist is raised before the torso and subsequently drawn down and nearer to the body in a vigorous, swift motion. The fist pump is sometimes carried out in parts of the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Japan (where it is known as guts pose) to denote enthusiasm, exuberance, or success and may be accompanied by a similarly energetic exclamation or vociferation. The gesture may be executed once or in a rapid series.

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 28

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