Sunday, 1 November 2015

Protest Japan style

Seen in Komagome yesterday... on the campaign poster for PM Abe, the kanji  - noroi - has been written.  Noroi means hex or curse, so "Hex on PM Abe".  There was no similar message on the poster below, the local member from the same party.  correction, the poster below is from a Komeito member - the junior coalition party of the LDP. She is not from the LDP.
Graffiti is pretty unusual in Japan, political graffiti very unusual, to the extent that Anti Abe graffiti in found in railway toilets was being reported in the national news...
Deep angst or is the population becoming less compliant... a combination, or something else.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Protests and pictures

The protests are broken up by the police. Not in the sense that people can't protest, but in the sense that they keep people from forming a mass group.  They say it's about safety, but it's not because the police buses are parked end to end and if someone did for example have a heart attack, they are locked in by the barricades and the buses

The real reason is to stop the protesters getting a sense of unity, but more importantly to make it impossible to get photos like this:

Instead the government prefers pictures like the ones below, which make protests seem dangerous, frightening and criminal. In reality though there was so much positive energy last night. People are seeing it as a beginning not an end.

Pictures are power. Pictures win and lose wars.

This is what democracy looks like.

We don't need collective security. Let's vote out the Diet members who voted for this.

The War Bills into law

Police and barricades outside the Diet.
From the photos above, it looks like Japan is in a state of martial law. It was so ironic that the police were there to monitor the protesters who were scrupulously obeying the law, when the politicians inside were the ones breaking the law
On December 14 last year, the Japanese PM called an early election.  The reason for calling the election was that he wanted a mandate to delay the consumption tax increase and to make economic reform.  In reality, the beleaguered economy has been sidelined in favour of unpopular restarting of nuclear power and the passage of the War Laws. 

There have been protests throughout the year, first small and getting bigger. The 30th August saw an estimated 120,000 protesting in front of the Diet.  That might seem like a modest number, but in reality there has been a stigma on political protest and making overt disagreement.  Typically people look away.  Politics is taboo in the education system.   There is no source based history which presents different opinions of the same issue.  You might find students rattling tins to raise money for UNICEF, but you'd never find a branch of Amnesty International in a state school. 

Last night the government passed the laws at 3 am.  The laws aim to override article 9 of the constitution which made Japan a country that was forbidden from waging war. Now Japan will be able to fight in the wars of its allies (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria wherever suits the US, on whom Japan depends for "protection").  The overwhelming majority of Japanese people do not want the changes to occur, hence the protests.  The crowds at the protests are diverse, at least by Japanese standards of diversity, but have a lot more young people than the nuclear protests. There have been two basic themes of the protests: Peace and democracy.  

The government has legislated the ability to go to war in wars that are not directly affecting Japan. There has been very little explanation of the scope of the laws. Old people fear conscription. There was talk a while back of moving the start of the university year to September (from April) to align internationally (well at least with the northern hemisphere),  and use the five month gap between school and university as national service.  I haven't heard that recently. Personally, I am sceptical that there would be conscription, but that gap does give rise for concern.  There is a general fear of militarization, especially but not only among the traditional left.  It's ironic that the communists, who should in theory be the party of revolution, are actually the pacifists...   In addition,  Japan has recently changed laws to sell weapons.  Deals between Mistsubishi Electric and Turkey to sell tanks have already been done.   Concerns about militarization have been compounded by a troubling Secrets Act which has created almost unlimited possibilities for what can be declared a secret and is not  overseen by an indpendent third party. These changes are reminiscent of the 1930s and there is a uneasiness that the government is moving towards militarism.

The second concern is that the process has been unconstitutional. There is a process for changing the constitution and it hasn't been followed. Even the government's own constitutionaladviser said the laws are unconstitutional.  
It's so audacious. And has come after the Deputy PM lauded the Nazis, and said Japan could learn from the way they were able to change their constitution before the people were aware.

Was very disappointed that ABC Australia missed the second point in their reporting today. 
So that's what was going on at the National Diet.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Tambo Art, Inakadate, 2015

This year's theme at Inakadate's ricefield art was Gone with the Wind.  Hiro's father has a particular fondness for the movie and so we popped into see it on our way to Mt Hakkoda. The detail that they achieve through different coloured rice is truly remarkable.

The second feature was Star Wars.

A tribute to Ken Takakura