Saturday, 15 December 2012

TAKE BACK JAPAN -- Japan Election Diary 2012: Day 29

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

Santa Claus doesn't think much of the Liberal Democratic Party's slogan.

"Take back Japan assumes it was theirs in the first place. A little presumptuous, don't you think?"

If you're a foreign man of a certain age and girth you can presume that you will be asked to be Santa at this time of year.

"I want to know where you take Japan back to? If it's a shop can we get a refund?" 

"You should read the story at the bottom of today's Japan Times about how old people hold the keys to the election," Santa said.

"In a nation of old people, that's not a very bold statement." 

"Yes, but they have certain concerns that others don't."

"Like getting the maximum pensions with the least tax? Maybe. But is it possible that old folks might just as easily vote with their grandchildren's future in mind, rather than their own?"

"Maybe."

But Santa didn't sound convinced. 

***

I had naively set out on this diary with the hope of reaching some greater understanding of what this election means from my vantage point, but with just one more day to go to polling day, armed only with a twitter stream and a newspaper subscription, I'm no closer to a satisfactory answer. Maybe it was just a stupid question, or my arsenal is lacking in firepower.

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unpublished afterword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.




This being a diary and all, it is beyond my remit to offer meaning beyond reportage. Meaning is supposed to come later when we have time to let the dust settle from the result. But I don't know the result, and even if I did it shouldn't have any bearing on what went before. By all accounts the LDP looks all set to take back Japan with an outright majority and to decimate the current government. Maybe that's a sign of a healthy two-party democracy or if the DPJ fails to return to power in the election after next, maybe that means post-war Japan has reverted to its default state of one-party rule. Maybe. With half the electorate undecided, we can invent whatever meaning we like.

One thing that's becoming evident to me is the good guys and bad guys, or the left and right fit of policies is pretty meaningless. Perhaps those labels always were. There was a time when US Republicans championed black rights and the Democrats were the party of cotton, after all. For Japan, when you have a populist like Hashimoto being anti-nuclear and pro-global free trade, and an establishment business candidate like Abe promising more public works and an end to free trade talks, policies add up to little more than ideology-free whims or gambles for votes. 

Maybe some good comes of all this politicking, but that's a sort of desirable by-product from a natural process, like yeast eating through sugar and crapping out the alcohol and CO2. It just does it's thing, we decide what benefit, if any it serves. It makes our bread or ferments our beer. But it would happily do that without us.

***

As you can maybe tell, I'm at the edge of my knowledge, so I should step back from the brink. Seems to me lots of guff has been written about the failure of politics or the disillusionment of the electorate like that's a new phenomenon. Happens every time you don't get what you want from Santa.

But I have one more day to get it right. Until tomorrow.

Go to DAY 30

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