Monday, July 22, 2013

Where were the Japanese voters July 21st ?

Only one in four gave their support to Abe.

Turnout of upper house election at a record low 52.6% compared to the July 11 2010 with 57.9%. The third-lowest turnout since the end of World War II. Japanese have shown their veto or their disinterest for Abe's policy. But the NHK and other media won't tell you. Participation is even lower in regional prefecture such as Gumma (51.7%) with a massive disinterest for coming to the poll. 52 percent of voters went to the polls, it is therefore one of the worst result for an election in Japan history. While Sunday’s results gave his ruling coalition a comfortable majority in the upper house, it fell short of the two-thirds that the Liberal Democrats and allies would need to revise the Constitution, the 162 seats for a two-thirds majority.

Therefore, Abe Sori, how are you going to reform Japan? 

A Japan more competitive? What about consumption tax of 8% then 10% pledged in program which if imposed would create a burden in the middle of recovery policy? What about deregulations, future workforce of salary men and women, old generation, children, education, young workers, mothers willing to work again after maternity leave, what about pollution, crime, Tohoku, Fukushima? What about nuclear reactors? What about modernising an archipelago confronted with powerful neighbours who look down at his leaders with revisionist temper? What about setting Japan on the 21st century mode? What and when? For 52 %, an historical low participation to an election, the true clothes of salaryman look alike Shinzo Abe are not of the best pattern. A few ideas the day after.

1) Vested interests: who sponsored Abe since last year? Enhanced military and heavy industry of the ex Zaibatsu which grand father Kishi Nobusuke knew too well, bankers and hedge funds less agitated by the right wing and regional balance than by making quick profits and run out of Japan? Looks like the money machine will now asks for return of favours. Time will say if Shinzo Abe will inspire Japan and her partners into frenzy attacks on its concerned vital interests. What critics also should see is who did not come to vote, half of Japan basically. Japanese have shown their veto or their disinterest for Abe's policy. Period. But they saw that they rely on their purse to vote. To be continued?

2) No BBC! It is not unconditional support for Abe. It's the result of PR agencies and local elective machine with the return of money suitcases carriers. You saw the man behind Shinzo Abe on the night of the election result at Jiminto headquarters... Here we "encourage" people for voting not just ask people's money. Will Abe rush into revising the pacifist constitution, not sure, his priority will be to enhance the economy. Now if he does it, if he succeeds to inspire Japan Inc, Abe will be remembered as a great state-man. For my own interest as a foreign watcher and versed into political sciences I regret that a two-party democracy in Japan vanishes. 

3) How big Abe wants the Japanese military (JSDF Coast Guard) to become?  In terms of boosting defence, LDP already decided to raise Japan’s defence budget, first time in more than 10 years. One important victory is the alliance enforced by Komeito ( I know but...) who will cool down Abe's right wing nationalist mode. Although we remember the actions of Komeito and Soka Gakkai (創価学会) in the decades of LDP only rule when the religious organisation and its 8 millions followers patronised every chome of every town to secure seats. No change here. To be noted one noticeable interesting victory with the communists quite refreshed and appealing to the young Japanese. In Tokyo, winner Yoshiko Kira, is 30 years old, was elected on a concrete platform: improvement of working conditions and wages for youth. 

4) Priority is also to check how Mr Abe will be rebuilding all areas of Tohoku Fukushima. His appeal for nuclear power generation should be facing reality. Japan's annual growth for energy goes only, say, 3% to 4 %, 20 time less than China (US Dept of Energy stats). 

5) China... Beijing has an interest into keeping Tokyo under control. Beijing will monitor Abe's moves and those of the Americans. The international community that Abe and his right wing are so eager to confront vis a vis Japan history of defeat sourly embraced has not quite yet put up its mind about a politician who looks like "a doll for many PR agents dreaming of such "naiveté" I hear from a Tokyo resident well versed into society, economics and politics.

So, in a brief conclusion of what will take weeks to analyse, Abe's second chance and sanctuarization of his conservative forces do not mark the return to stability, it is the making of a "providential" team (I heard the words) willing to shake Japan. Some already fear the bad trade policies handled by very grey businesses and banking policies of Japan Inc seen as detrimental. The US EU France GB and others want to see proper course of development as seen with the TPP and EU Japan trade agreement plans. Well encouraged by international finance institutions and Abe was encouraged by Washington. OK, fine with me. 

Bottom line: will it benefit to the people or to the vested interests? LDP has genuine trends to favour its rulers prior to people.What is Abe going to do with his capital won last night? Already people close to him speak of a man who will stop running now that his peers are in charge. I'm not so sure. He believes it is his time. When the right wing decided to put its forces behind the man 2 years ago, they knew he would have to pay back.

But one missing element is the people way to control the politicians. Here in Japan, the invisible majority, and lobbies, always resorts to pre-emptive strikes moves to discourage politicians seen as unfit for the archipelago. Scandals are the best choice, ask Ozawa about it. The key issue here is to see if Shinzo Abe will show responsibility into respecting his campaign pledges, bringing Japan out of recession and deflation and boost the nation GDP while offering concessions abroad. There is no other expectation. Especially vis a vis the expectations of his right wing.

But in case of failures of Abenomics, there is an opened option that he will again play the nationalist hard game with China, Korea and on civil liberties, tolerate infamous hate-speech and other discriminations such as downgrading the life of Tohoku and Fukushima victims. Practically, "Government coalition partners Jimin and Komei are apart on how the constitution and on what in it, should be changed." So if "nothing really changes" as commentator Gerald Curtis stated 2 weeks ago, this is therefore the beginning of a political intifada for the ultra conservative who created Abe's destiny.

Not much to say about DPJ, it proves one more time that after having crushed the Iwate strong man, there was no more helmsman in the centre-left camp. People with motivations and clear policies are expected by the folks down here these days.

Those are my views, I was right Sunday morning when I predicted on TBS TV a poor turnout to the polls. Let's now give time to time to see where we will stand on all these questions. Anyway congrats to all the winners, they worked hard under the scorching sun.

I leave the last words to "Shisaku" of Michael Cucek in the somber question of voters worst turn out  and a map of the election from Debito org.

UPDATE:  My honourable and experienced "先輩 sempai" colleague Linda Sieg of Reuters draws the same conclusion about the Abe mandate and the lack of support of Japanese to his ultra conservative agenda: "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's landslide election victory at the weekend was anything but a ringing endorsement from voters. The vast majority never voted for his coalition...only about one in four voters gave their support. Three-quarters of the electorate either did not vote at all or backed opposition parties." 

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