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Monday, July 6, 2015

Japan taking a stand against ABEIGNomics?

At long last, the Japanese people seems to be starting to realize where Shinzo Abe wants to lead their nation, and to grow uncomfortable with that prospect. The days of Abe's government are not yet counted, and Japan's political system is far from purging itself from Nippon Kaigi and its likes, but this nascent debate on core democratic issues is more than welcome.

Japanese moderates waking up! The Abe / Nippon Kaigi anti-democratic agenda exposed!

The best news is of course the fact that moderate voices are making themselves heard in the peninsula. 

Consider this: just weeks ago (see "Under Coverage"), only Shigeaki Koga dared stand up for press freedom, and now the pressure is on the ones who pledged to destroy it. The LDP even had to distance itself from the extremists who said out loud what was behind Abe's controversial state secrets laws. Their profiles speak volumes and typically, Minoru Kihara, who lost his job at the youth section, openly supports Nippon Kaigi, while Hideo Onishi, who got slammed for saying "we must punish some of the media organizations that are reporting about the security legislation and baselessly saying it would lead to war"*, openly supports the fundamentalist shinto lobby Sinseiren.

At last, people are starting to worry more about a success of ABEIGNomics than about a failure of ABEnomics. The support of post-war Japan's peaceful constitution has regained momentum: pro-peace demonstrations are drawing bigger crowds and wider media coverage, and recent polls show that two out of three refuse Abe's project of revising Article 9.

Before reviewing the constitution, the most revisionist Prime Minister may have to review his own copy.

Even as the Shinzo Abe fatigue grows, still no responsible leadership emerging home or abroad

If Abe remains relatively popular for a Japanese PM, he just received for the first time in his mandate more negative than positive opinions in a poll (Mainichi, by a close 43 to 42% margin). And if his ruling party LDP remains unlikely to lose national elections in any foreseeable future, criticisms are growing within its ranks. Abe himself is not always directly targeted, but more members of his extremist entourage are feeling more pressure every day.

Abe keeps playing the usual Abe game, focusing on his lifetime priority: the destruction of postwar Japan. But as he tries to convince an increasingly doubtful public to adopt his ironically dubbed "Legislation for Peace and Security", he's risking to lose support from his hardcore base. 

In order to get its controversial** industrial sites on UNESCO World Heritage List, Japan had to issue a statement mentioning the existence of forced labor, a concession very hard to swallow for Nippon Kaigi, but also for Abe and Aso themselves, both members of families directly involved in these human rights abuses. 

Of course, whether Japan will fulfill these promises remains to be seen, and South Korea and China will be watching closely. 

I wish they were more constructive, supportive of the peaceful Japan Abe and Nippon Kaigi pledged to destroy. We can't count on the self-proclaimed champion of democracy to help Japan proclaim its independence from Imperial Japan, since the US decided, suicidally, to unconditionally support Abe's revision of Article 9 (see ""History is harsh" and other sick jokes"). 

Hold your horses

Overall, I'm cautiously more optimistic than last year on the chances of seeing the Japanese people take a stand for their democracy, and/or the LDP starting to seek a sustainable future, with sounder leaders, and fewer rotten branches.  

And we could still ask the same questions as before last year's elections (see "It's the democracy, stupid"):
- are Abenomics at last meeting reality?
- can Abe's pseudo-diplomatic offensive pay?
- with or without Abe as PM, will Nippon Kaigi be confirmed as the de facto ruler of Japan?

And time keeps running short. 

Yesterday, Choi Geum-seon halmoni passed away. After Kim Youn-hee halmoni and the others who preceded her over the past few months. Now South Korea counts only 48 survivors of Imperial Japan sex slavery system. Again, standing for them is also standing not against Japan, but for its future ("'Comfort Women': No Resolution Without Resoluteness. From Everyone, Please.").

Sad to see our dear halmoni die without closure from about (20150625 -
We must also stand for Japan's youth, bombarded with ultranationalist and xenophobic propaganda, following familiar patterns from history's most murderous century. 

Abe and co. fuel mutual hatred because they need tensions to justify their agenda. And it works. Outrageously violent pamphlets multiply across Japanese bookstores. They won't cause the kind of massacres that followed the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, but they certainly don't bode well for the future of Japan and the region.

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* "Disciplined LDP lawmaker once again calls for punishing media" (Asahi Shimbun - 20150701)
** a long story, see for example "Hashima, Yawata Steel: enshrining slave labor in UNESCO World Heritage List?" (2013)

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