As I oft do, I let my optimist run over my realist.
I thought the new political parties in Japan – formed as a result of the people’s dissatisfaction with the old parties’ institutional corruption, pro-business and pro-nuclear power agenda – might gain control of the country.
I thought the huge weekly demonstrations, unlike anything else in Japan’s history, signaled something deeper in terms of political change.
But apathy, xenophobia and a distorted electoral system have triumphed.
The Japanese electorate has justly punished the Nodo government – by foolishly retreating into the arms of the LDS, which ruled the country continuously from WWII until 3 years ago.
But don’t let LDS’s control of over half of the parliaments seats confuse you that this was a big win for them. Japan’s election laws enable them to leverage only 30% of the popular vote to almost 60% of the seats. At the same time only 60% of the country voted, the lowest turnout since the war.
Shinzo Abe (pronounced “ah-bay”)will be only the second Japanese PM to return to the job since the war (and he is the youngest ever elected to the top spot). Sadly, the Japanese are choosing to forget his incompetent crony government from 2007 – complete with minister suicides and scandal driven resignations.
His low popularity made it impossible for him to keep Japanese troops in Afghanistan or pass repressive anti-terrorist laws, so he suddenly resigned. He is a revisionist Hawk, who wants to re-write school textbooks to eliminate Japan’s war crimes and add teeth to its military.
Meet the new hawk, same as the old hawk
It is probably fear of China’s growing military and a nuclear-weapons-enabled North Korea which has put Abe’s party back in power with him at the helm.
This destabilizes the region and promises reactors which should stay down in that country, will come back online.
It is indeed a dark day in Japanese history.