Japan Ain’t All Hello Kitty: A Government Beyond Change?

If you like the kind of leader you'd find idling around a convenience store looking at porno mags....you'll love Japan

If you like the kind of leader you'd find idling around a convenience store looking at porno mags....you'll love Japanese Politics

The Japanese government likes to lives in a little bubble world all their own. It’s as if they don’t realize that the choices and decisions they make influence an entire country of people under them.

Equally, most Japanese people have become disinterested  in the whole governmental process. They don’t seem to care who leads them, and realize that their government failed long ago They lack all hope for change and care little for politics.

While I enjoy my life in Japan, the good comes with a healthy dose of bad. Much of this bad comes from the political sphere.

Here’s the laundry list of a primer. I hope it encourages further exploration on the issues presented.

Hereditary Positions: The majority of lawmakers are able to hand down their positions to sons upon retirement.  If you thought the Bush, Clinton, and Kennedy dynasties were a problem in America, you’d go nuts here. According to the excellent article mentioned above, some 40% of the LDP benefits from this practice. With Japan’s strong sense of duty towards parents, grandparents, and so on, policies way past their prime are perpetuated via a sense of duty. People continue to vote for candidates because they recognize the name and the platform. Recent events to change this practice seem to have stalled out when politicians realized they wouldn’t be able to easily nominate their kids anymore.

Ministries of Uselessness: The former Health Minister calls women “baby-making machines,” the foreign ministry advocates sending schoolgirl stereotypes and french maid outfitted girls abroad to promote culture, and  with rampant resignations and even suicides, the various ministries exist in absolute chaos. The Prime Ministers quickly fire and change staff as their platforms sink and the PMs themselves flip yearly now so your time as a Minister of _____ is usually about as long as that of a Spinal Tap drummer.

Foreign Descendants: It’s a Xenophobic country in a global world. The recent economy has heightened peoples’ fears regarding outsiders. The government, in their shortsighted ignorance has decided to pay Latin American guest workers to leave the country and never return. These ‘guest workers’ are of Japanese descent, mostly Peruvians and Brazilians whose family lines comes from the Japanese who settled in those areas during Japan’s drive to expand. When they were finally allowed back in country in the 1990s, they found themselves limited to the most menial and dangerous jobs. Now they’re being primed to leave. Not only is this a horrible slight to people that share history and blood with Japan, but it’s a horribly shortsighted idea in a country where the workforce is shrinking drastically because of the falling birthrate.

Gaijin: For those of us without the luck of being a foreigner of Japanese descent, The Ministry of Justice is looking to take over management of the “Alien Registration Card” system, AKA: Gaijin Card to better watch for us pesky foreigners. The centralization of the process away from local governments will lead to a slew of new checks and balances, allowing for more monitoring of our whereabouts and changes. It seems like the country really doesn’t want anyone here.

Child Pornography: You can read my rant on this issue here, but needless to say, Japan’s current stance on child pornography laws is far below the International norm. This is somewhat disgusting, but because of partisan politics, the LDP and DPJ can’t even seem to agree on a bill to bring the laws up to standard. When a government is sitting around debating child pornography, it’s officially hit rock bottom.

Wartime Past: A huge problem with Japan is that they’ve adopted this extremely peaceful mentality, but have never actually come to grips with what happened in WW II. The country just collectively forgot the entire chapter. It’s as if a guy cheated on his gf, she found out, and he just told her “I’ll never do it again, let’s not talk about it any further.” The rest of the world is the gf, they’d like to talk it over are eagerly awaiting, lists in hand, to hear them. It shouldn’t take 67 years to apologize for the Bataan Death March. It’s great that you’ve adopted such a peaceful little world, but if you don’t accept what happened and educate people, history is bound to repeat itself.

Bridges to Nowhere: In America, a big issue of the recent campaign was Governor Palin’s ‘Bridge to Nowhere.” In Japan, everywhere is a bridge to nowhere. The Central Government’s big idea to keep the economy going is to constantly fund public works projects, no matter how useless. Driving through the countryside yields reinforced mountainsides, kilometers away from any forms of civilization, grand roads and tunnels that connect farming villages, and tetrapods covering the entire coastline. Local governments have become akin to beggars or perhaps even little mafias, grabbing money from their central daddy and inventing useless projects and inflating costs to skim money for other things. Congratulations, the whole country is run like a mafia!

No Clear Choice: I sometimes ask my students questions when things are bugging me. I’ve followed the two parties of Japan, the LDP and DPJ, for some time now. In all that time, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the difference. It just seems like a bunch of people that couldn’t hack it in the hierarchy broke away with the same platforms in order to be higher up in a new hierarchy with a different name. My students have failed to explain any differences to me as well. Some have said it’s like a choice between Coke and Pepsi. I’d say it’s more like a choice between last year’s Coca Cola can design and this year’s Coca Cola can.

Whales: I’m not anti-whaling at all. I’m not exactly pro-whaling either, but if you can find me some concrete examples of how whaling is an integral part of the culture, than so be it. From what I’ve seen in Japan, no one really likes the taste and the stockpile of whale meat is currently far outstripping demand to the point where the government has made overtures to the population to get more into eating the stuff so they can get rid of it and have better reason for killing more whales. Their entire platform on whaling seems to stand on others telling them they shouldn’t. Children also practice this annoying habit of doing the opposite of what’s suggested in the face of reason. You’re not children, you’re the government of the second most powerful economy in the world.

Indigenous/Captured People/Burakumin: The Diet only recently recognized the Ainu people as an indigenous people of the country. That’s progressive by Japanese standards. Korean-blooded people, many brought to Japan as laborers against their will or as slaves in past wars still lack the rights of normal Japanese citizens even though they’ve often lost complete connection to their original lands. Congrats, you just recognized the Ainu, refuse to recognize people that were brought here against their will, and won’t recognize Japanese people that settled in other lands. Also, people with past family histories of being leather workers or butchers still can’t get a good job. Awesome!

General Stupidity: Taro Aso is a moron who can’t even read. Listen, I come from a country that knows idiot leaders too, we can smell one of our own. The guy fails at reading Kanji, gaffes a mile a minute, comes from his little bubble land of hereditary politicians, and ran a family company that literally rode its way to the top on the backs of Korean workers and POWs. I could go on and on about him, but by and large, you could say this about everyone currently in the Japanese Government. They’re so backwards that they seem to exist solely to maintain their grips on the little political bubble world they live in. Any attempts to shatter it, via a modernization of the election process, fund-raising, or progressive laws are met with hostility, and again, more stupidity.

I hope you enjoyed this primer on some of the major issues currently plaguing the Japanese Government. It’s my hope that it’ll send folks off researching some of these topics in further detail.

For the record, I’m not really much of a grumpy hater, and I do enjoy my daily life in Japan. The country still manages to soldier on quite efficiently and if the gov has anything to do with train times, I applaud them.

What do yall think? What gets under your skin the most?

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26 responses to “Japan Ain’t All Hello Kitty: A Government Beyond Change?

  1. Every country has their problems, but the whole child porno thing is reallllly disturbing. How did they manage to find a way to argue FOR child porno? I’m confused. Also, the fact that they seem to enjoy killing tons and tons of whales for no apparent reason is pretty depressing. Snap the fuck out of it!

  2. As for the child porn thing….it’s not so much that they’re for it, they’re just slow to change…

    The Jgov moves like an iceberg, and they’re each going to have their own bill that they will support, much like America when partisan politics get in the way of making sense of fairly clear-cut issues…

    As for the whaling, I’ll get into that at another time perhaps….needless to say, the more people bitch about it, the less Japan is likely to stop though…

  3. Yeah I’d really like to know why Japan is behind the rest of the world in the whole “not killing endangered sea mammals” thing. The fact that frustratingly obvious policies go unchanged because of politicians own agendas makes it even more…well….frustrating.

  4. A very good overview of the craziness that is the Japanese government. When I was teaching English one of my students told me that Japanese history classes never get around to teaching about WWII, even though it is in the curriculum. So, that is a possible reason no one bothers to talk about it.

    And, I would say the rest of the issues you mention have even less rational explanations behind them.

  5. Hi, while I generally agree that Japan’s problematic party / election system should be overhauled completely, I sense some kind of vitriol in this posting – are you married to a Chinese woman or are you influenced in any way by a bitter Chinese person? Most of the stuff, like whaling, isn’t really interesting – the problem is not that Japan (and Norway) are still whaling, but much more the western mindset. We people in the western world are so 100% sure that our way of doing things is the only right way to do things that we feel a need to tell anyone off who strays off our norms. There could be a lot said about the western societies’ crave for cheap meat, the resulting “mass production” of cheap meat and the very sad conditions for those animals who live a miserable life just to be eaten. At least those whales had a normal life until they got caught. Somehow, the pointing of fingers to a whaling country is therefore not, how do I put it, intelligent.

    Then, that whole thing about Japan’s WWII wrongdoings – you should read up on the facts and not just be taken hostage by the viewpoint of the eternally bitter (mostly) Chinese right-wingers. There has been a truckload of official apologies, and of course reparation payments surpassing those of Germany after WWII. Yet, somehow, China has pulled off a stunt picturing Japan as still unapologetic (in my opinion, that’s an easy way to trick naive people into looking away from China’s very current wrongdoings) and war-mongering. The only point China might have is that it was not such a good idea by Koizumi to repeatedly visit that memorial.

    And lastly, about the Gaijin thing – I guess there is a natural bias there. What Japan tries to do is not make the life harder for normal foreigners picking up actual jobs that can help the Japanese economy, but rather to limit the masses of creepy foreigners with yellow fever coming to Japan solely to score with a Japanese girl and survive on low-pay jobs like teaching English. Japan doesn’t need a few million otaku anime-watching losers and potheads from other countries, they have enough skebbes on their own.

    To make a long story short – yes you are right the political system of Japan needs an overhaul quick, but most other points are just cultural imperialism and FUD.

    • I agree with Don. If the people raping and murdering in Nanking were around today to apologize, I’d say, “apologize!”.

      But making today’s Japanese, especially the younger generation, who are about the second-most peaceful society in the world (behind Switzerland?), feel responsible for events that took place before their birth — just because of nationality, which I think is a very stupid and anachronistic concept — is just not going to be productive. Especially considering their culture that is prone to debilitating shame.

      Go ahead and rub their noses in it if you want revenge (and blood-money) — because one thousand apologies will never be enough — but see what effect the humiliating Versailles reparations had in Germany after WW-I.

      After terrible atrocities, we cannot ask more than a society eschew militaristic ways and become truly peaceful, as Japan has done. (I would love to see the day the USA becomes as peaceful as Japan!!) Those who seek revenge through humiliation of later generations for past atrocities are the true war-mongerers at heart.

      • I don’t know if we need to really rub it in on the younger ones, but it should at least be learned. They skip over so much of the bad. I know Vietnam was a bad idea because we studied it, I know that Korea was a clusterfuck because we covered that too.

        If you don’t know why something was a bad idea and don’t know your history, someone might come along whose smart enough to manipulate your ignorance.

        It’s nice that their peaceful, but paradigm shifts are possible when people don’t know why they adopted the original paradigm in the first place…..

  6. In terms of Whaling, I’m pretty sure that it’s a result of American cultural Imperialism….Mac allowing the Japanese to whale again, helping them get the needed equipment from Norway, and allowed them to keep the meat while the US profited from the oil….Show me a deep history of whaling and using whales beyond recent history and I’ll gladly support it (as my link shows)

    About WWII, I actually have never head a Chinese view on the war, so I can’t say they’ve influenced me. I’m still of the opinion that there’s some apologizing left to be had. It’s also something that the gov often does without much fanfare to the point where these things just fly over the heads of the entire population if they’re prone to reading Japanese-only media. An apology made alone in the woods is hardly an apology…

    To your point about limiting wacky Otaku, this would make sense if they weren’t sending girls abroad in mini-skirts and french maid outfits to promote tourism and slowly waddling their way to a modern viewpoint on child pornography. That seems like it would just increase their ranks.

  7. Hi Craig,

    like I wrote in your other post about the sending off Maid-outfitted girls for promoting Japan, that’s also a question of perspective. Japanese women are seldom aware their way of dressing (which by western standards is just skanky) could lead to the idea that they are, or aspire to be, promiscuous. I’ll be the first one to admit guilty of dirty thoughts when seeing skankily-clad girls (from any country) – but I don’t think Japan isn’t aiming to advertise it’s country in such a demeaning way (which would be completely out of character for Japan which tries and succeeds to hide prostitution in every way it can).

    I agree with you this would be an literally ill-advised move that they should be talked out of, though. I can already hear the outcry of western feminist organizations ;-)

    Thinking of it, this is a nice example for the difference in morals of the western world compared to Japan. In Japan, even if a woman dresses like a skank, no man would automatically assume she is one (because most women dress more offensively yet they are not exactly known for being the most promiscuous people there is).

  8. At the end of the day, I’m from Jersey, so you could basically point me at any country and I could craft you a vitriolic list of their failings..

  9. LOL you’re a good guy then! Most countries suck. Let me correct that – they all do.

  10. What does that have to do with being from Jersey? I’m from California and….? But by the way if guys see a girl dressing like a skank….they absolutely assume she is one..don’t try to lie!

    • ‘Cause Jersey people can sit around and complain about anything…

      Anyway, yeah, if I even notice, but in Japan, so many women dress like whores that I hardly even notice anymore

  11. Awesome post craig, as ever.

    Now, if someone could translate this is drive around outside parliament with a loudspeaker letting them know how sucky they are (hell, we all know that kind of noise pollution is quite accepted in the japanese world of politics..) we would all be better off.

    • Lol, you know they’d just get more adamant about not changing if people were yelling at them to change! Although they don’t show it on the outside, they have a kinda secret inner “Korean-esque” way of dealing with opposition…getting more stubborn and childlike! (For the record, I love this about Koreans….I also take a similar path when dealing with stuff!)

  12. our man in abiko is linking to you.it’s all downhill from here I’m afraid.

    nice blog by the way

  13. I appreciate your post it kept me occupied for a a bit. I have a handgeschmiedetes Katana site at when you have some time!!

  14. I appreciate your post it kept me busy for a few minutes. I have a handgeschmiedetes Katana site at when you have some time!!

  15. im such a hello kitty lover some peopole say im a hello kitty freak i love hello kitty so much i just cant stop getting on her website and stop talking about her and have hello kitty $$$$

  16. if you hate on me your a bitch fuck you ill make you bitch im god fuck what the governer what that bitch say im real governer so fuck the hand bitch

  17. suck a you know what i mean ugly ass pour ass homelese peopole

  18. bye bitches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. all yall fukers pussy ass hoes

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