In case readers are wondering, and in the hope that they care, the author has been outside of Tokyo since election day.
Regular posting will resume on June 30, Amaterasu willing and a typhoon don't arise.
Climbing the value chain
11 hours ago
Japan PM Facebook Foray Draws Allies, Arguments(Link)
In the year since he opened his Facebook account, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has embraced the social media site in a way that's unlike any of his predecessors, praising it as a direct channel to the public...
In a newspaper interview, Hitoshi Tanaka, an ex-diplomat who played a crucial role in the negotiations between Tokyo and Pyongyang over the return in 2002 of five Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s, voiced his concern that the prime minister’s recent comments on wartime history and his push to revise the constitution were being perceived as Japan's "rightward tilt" by the international community.
Mr. Abe went on the offensive on his Facebook page, reminding his nearly 367,000 "followers" and some 4,800 "friends" that Mr. Tanaka claimed 11 years ago that the abductees should be eventually returned to North Korea as initially agreed to with Pyongyang. Mr. Abe called Mr. Tanaka's decision then "a decisive mistake for a diplomat," dismissing him as "unqualified to speak about diplomacy."
Other lawmakers weighed in on the row. Economy Minister Akira Amari tried to downplay the round of name-calling, explaining this week that the 58-year-old prime minister is a "hot-blooded youth" whose endless duties have left him high-strung.Amari, who has been gaffe-central in the Abe Cabinet through his inexplicable desire to tell the truth behind the fictions (Link) may have finally talked himself out of a job, post-House of Councillors election, with this last unhelpful "explanation."
All four engines on new reconnaissance plane stalled during test flight(Link)
All four engines on a new reconnaissance plane stalled during a test flight earlier this year, it has been learned from a ministry source.
When the incident was announced by the Ministry of Defense at a press conference on June 20, a ministry official discussing the P1 plane engine failure had said, "We can only say that multiple engines stopped." Later, in an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun, it was learned that the ministry had not yet told municipalities near the base that the failure had affected all four engines.
According to the ministry's aircraft department, the engine failure took place on May 13 off the coast of Aichi Prefecture, after pilots from the plane's manufacturer, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, descended the plane from an altitude of 10,000 meters to around 8,000, and then regained flight posture while quickly lowering engine output. The maneuver was done to test an alarm on the plane for excessive speed. The crew was able to manually restart the engines, and execute a safe landing.
One senior Defense Ministry official said of the engine trouble, "We were prepared for it and it is not dangerous." However, another senior official noted, "The P1 is a purely domestically-made and developed aircraft," adding, "The ministry was probably worried that the damage (to the project's public image) would be great."
Asia's Mystery Man
When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the controversial Tokyo war memorial known as Yasukuni Shrine last month, the story made headlines around the world and triggered indignant protests in Seoul and Beijing. But when the news broke a few days later that Koizumi's political confidant Shinzo Abe had made his own surreptitious visit to the shrine earlier in the year, few outside Japan took notice. Even given the fact that Abe had made a point of avoiding the cameras, the reactions still seem disproportionate. The first of the two men, after all, is about to step off the political stage and into the history books. The other is almost certain to step onto it this month and become Japan's next prime minister--a job he could hold for years to come.
On Sept. 20, in all likelihood, Abe will be elected president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party--a victory that will guarantee his election, a few days later, as prime minister...
He's got at least two big goals, and they're both risky. The first is revising the Constitution to eliminate Japan's pacifist postwar military tradition, and the second, which could be a function of the first, is defying China's bid for regional pre-eminence. A generation ago, the first idea would have struck mainstream Japanese voters as irresponsibly radical; the second even now strikes many as fraught with uncertainty.
The loveliness of ParisThe Financial Times has published an opinion piece on the concentration of the world's wealth and power...and now the world's wealthiest and most powerful, into a top tier of what it calls global cities:
Is somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome
Is of another day
I've been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan...
- Cory & Cross, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" (1953)
Priced out of ParisFirst, those who read the FT are almost all either in the 1%, are aspirants to being in the 1% or have fallen out of the 1% through lassitude or ill-luck. How many of the readers have turned to the mirror after reading the piece and said, "This is an essay about me and what people like me are doing to the world. How do I stop myself?"
by Simon Kuper
Global cities are turning into vast gated communities where the one per cent reproduces itself. Elite members don’t live there for their jobs. They work virtually anyway. Rather, global cities are where they network with each other, and put their kids through their country's best schools. The elite talks about its cities in ostensibly innocent language, says Sassen: "a good education for my child," "my neighbourhood and its shops". But the truth is exclusion.
When one-per-centers travel, they meet peers from other global cities. A triangular elite circuit now links London, Paris and Brussels, notes Michael Keith, anthropology professor at Oxford. Elite New Yorkers visit London, not Buffalo.
Sassen says: ...These new geographies of centrality cut across many older divides – north-south, east-west, democracies versus dictator regimes. So top-level corporate and professional sectors of São Paulo begin to have more in common with peers in Paris, Hong Kong et cetera than with the rest of their own societies."
To put a Cadillac in your nose.
It's just imposssssible!
- Steve Martin, Let's Get Small (1977)
LDP 41.7%There is one unexpected result -- and it is a doozy.
New Komeito 5.1%
Your Party 1.5%
I am feeling them 11%What is so charming about this result? It is impossible.
I am not feeling them 46%
I cannot say either way 37%
I am feeling them 21%You read that right.
I am not feeling them 36%
I cannot say either way 40%
Be Here Now
- George Harrison, "Be Here Now" (1973)
危険よりUntil now the Japanese markets were an effervescent mix of opportunity and danger for the foreign investor: skyrocketing equities prices on the plus side with a falling currency on the minus. Now, with the market in correction, the heretofore acceptable risk now sends the skittish on a search for other places to play.
gaika kasegi ga
saki ni tatsu
those booking their earnings in foreign currencies
have set out first
副作用It does not take too much time for the reader to understand that the medicine here is Abenomics, with the side effects being inflation in the cost of imported goods and volatility in the equities and bond markets. Just who is saying "mo gomen" is left up to the reader's imagination. Is it Abe, apologizing for putting his fellow citizens through suffering from rising prices without concurrent rises in income? Or it is members of the public who are telling the PM the pain is already too great to bear -- so please do not ask us to bear more?
itami ni taero
Let's grit our way through the pain
of the side effects.
I'm sorry, it's already...
うまし国My translation is pathetic. However, the heavy duty wordplay here would challenge even a competent translator.
awa no mikusu
The bountiful country
In the mix ("mics") of bubbles
rises and sinks
失うとThe Chinese character for the verb ushinau -- "to lose" -- is 失. The Chinese character for the noun ya -- arrow -- is 矢. In what is a purely visual pun, the author notes that only the slightest change takes one from the Three Arrows of Abenomics to losses.
iu ji ni niteru
ya no ji ka na
The character that looks like
the character for "loss" --
it's “arrow” isn't it?
尻の火もThere is a slight bit of word play in the last line, where shita kocho could intentionally be misread as zekkocho -- "going just great" -- but when you have a butt that is on fire, there is no time for pedantry.
Shiri no hi mo
Without putting out
an ass that is on fire
the prime minister’s tongue keeps right on going
Electoral reform: Making it count / Should electoral zones be absolutely proportional to populations?(Link)
This is the second installment of a series.
There is growing mistrust between judicial and legislative circles over the value of a single vote based on the population represented by each lawmaker.
On March 26, the Okayama branch of the Hiroshima High Court ruled that the House of Representatives election last year, in which there was a vote-value disparity of up to 2.43 times, was "unconstitutional," and that election results for Okayama Constituency No. 2, where the vote-value disparity stood at 1.41 times, were "invalid."
Two weeks later on April 11, Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Gen Nakatani made the following remarks at the lower house Commission on the Constitution:
"The Constitution leaves matters concerning electoral systems to laws. I think judgments regarding whether electoral systems are unconstitutional or constitutional should primarily be left to the Diet."
Article 47 of the Constitution stipulates, "Electoral districts, voting method and other matters pertaining to the method of election of members of both houses shall be fixed by law."
Nakatani's reference to the article indicated his hostility toward the judicial bodies over their infringement of the Diet's discretionary power.
Takashi Yamashita, an LDP lawmaker elected from Okayama Constituency No. 2, also cast doubt on the ruling, which if abided by would cause him to lose his seat.
"The idea of 'one vote for each person' is important. But if the principle were strictly applied, lawmakers would be concentrated in urban areas," Yamashita said...
Article 47. Electoral districts, method of voting and other matters pertaining to the method of election of members of both Houses shall be fixed by law.I am feeling generous today. I will give you a wild card.
Article 41. The Diet shall be the highest organ of state power, and shall be the sole law-making organ of the State.The highest organ of state power? Whew. That is good.
Article 81. The Supreme Court is the court of last resort with power to determine the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation or official act.Oh, too bad. When the Supreme Court delivers its judgment, as it will later this year on the constitutionality of the December 2012 House of Representatives election, that judgment will be final. Whether the Supreme Court has the means of enforcing an unconstitutionality ruling, in the face of resistance from a House of Representatives determined to cling to power -- that I grant you is a question.
LDP 48.1 (48.5)
DPJ 7.0 (5.9)
JRA 4.2 (4.8)
New Komeito 5.2 (3.2)
Your Party 3.6 (4.4)
JCP 2.0 (2.8)
SDP 0.8 (0.5)
People's Life Party 0.5 (0.4)
Green Breeze 0.1 (0.9)
Other political parties, groups 0.2 (0.3)
None of the above 28.3 (28.3)
LDP 44.6 (44.4)
DPJ 7.9 (6.8)
JRA 4.5 (5.7)
New Komeito 6.4 (4.4)
Your Party 4.0 (5.2)
JCP 2.6 (3.1)
SDP 0.8 (0.5)
People's Life Party 0.3 (0.3)
Green Breeze 0.1 (0.8)
Other political parties, groups 0.5 (0.4)
D/K+N/A 28.3 (28.4)
Yes 37.2 (41.5)You read that right. 48.1% of the respondents said they are supporters of the LDP and 44.6% said they are ready to vote for the party in July. However, only 37.2% of the respondents were in favor of lowering the bar in order to facilitate (some would say eliminate all restraint on) constitutional revision.
No 51.6 (48.6)
Don’t know/Can’t say 11.2 (9.9)
The Prime Minister Receives a Courtesy Call from the Winners of the National Truck Driver Contest
Thursday, May 30, 2013
And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?
We call it 'Riding the Gravy Train' - yeah...
Pink Floyd, "Have a Cigar" (1975)