Hey, Ampontan, do you do this pro bono, or is there some kind of secret yarase blogger program run out of the Kantei? If the latter, is it too late to sign up?
I think, if the price was right, I could write posts with titles like “Let us all thank our Dear Leader for making Japan so beautiful,” “Never stop being so gorgeous Japan,” and “How did you get so gosh darn beautiful in the first place?”
Scratch that. I would rather ask pointed questions than make excuses, even if it doesn’t pay nearly as well.
Seriously though, does Ampontan really think that this whole sordid Matsuoka affair is going to vanish overnight? This is unprecedented in the political history of modern Japan: a sitting cabinet minister committing suicide, as investigators began to uncover gross misuse of his ministry to favor political supporters. While it remains too soon to tell what impact it will have on July’s elections, it is also too soon to wave it off by suggesting that Matsuoka’s death will “close the book” on the seiji to kane issue of which he was emblematic.
I love Ampontan’s alternative: pocketbook issues are what matter, so let’s all stop paying attention to the massive corruption — and the government’s alleged role in covering it up — and talk about how Japan’s economy is growing again. No mention, of course, about the lingering doubts about the depth and breadth of the recovery (Ken Worsley’s Japan Economy News blog has documented the bevy of mixed signals on the “longest sustained expansion” in the postwar period). This just doesn’t hold water. And Ampontan doesn’t even ask the obvious question of whether the Japanese people, the people who will, you know, be voting in July, are actually benefiting from The Longest Sustained Expansion in Postwar Japan. [Ed. – Laying it on a bit thick, aren’t we?]
Arguably that’s why the pensions scandal — which Ampontan also seems to dismiss — is important. When people are economically insecure, they tend to worry about reports that their source of income may be disrupted due to government incompetence. Is it really appropriate to doubt that the pensions scandal might be important in a country in which the percentage of over-65s in the population is set to rise sharply?
All of which goes to say that it’s impossible to say at this point what issue will move this election. In Japan, more than in the US, all politics is local (to use a quote from American politics that it’s even more appropriate for Japan than the quote used by Ampontan for the title of his post), making it difficult to tell which issues that seem important at the national level will filter down to the local level and affect voter behavior.
But that is no excuse for saying that all is well because the economy is growing: there are plenty of reasons for Japan’s voters to “throw the bums out,” even if it is unclear whether they will opt to do so (another topic of discussion entirely).