Jul 31, 2007

In Which the LDP Gets Trounced. Woo!

For the past year, Shinzo Abe's cabinet has at least been entertaining.
Well, entertaining in a horrible sort of way.
One of them had to apologize for calling women "breeding machines," another said that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki "couldn't have been helped," and still another hung himself before he could be investigated for corruption charges. And of course there's the matter of tons of missing pension documents, something that's given Japan's old people one more thing to be cantankerous about. The Japanese cabinet lately has been a sort of tragic comedy of errors that begs to be mocked by someone like John Stewart. Of course, he's busy mocking our own government. But, for the local Japanese John Stewart types, the past year has been the sort of pure comedy gold that only comes from utter political incompetence.
And on Sunday, Abe's party got their ass kicked. I'm very happy about this.
The party that's dominated Japanese politics for decades now is the Liberal Democratic Party, an entity that brings to mind Voltaire's description of the Holy Roman Empire. Just as that Germanic landmass was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, the LDP is certainly not liberal, not especially democratic, and not really a party either.
Instead, it's a mass of factions and interest groups held together by a common (though not always coherent) conservative political ideology, and a network of political relationships, convenient alliances, favors, and vague nationalism. It's certainly not as right-wing as the various splinter groups in Japan (like the guys I saw in Osaka), but it's certainly not progressive. I don't pretend that legislation can dictate culture, but I certainly don't think that the LDP's decades-long reign has helped Japan with regards to stuff like women's rights, workers getting overtime pay, or the institution of more reasonable working hours. I do think that Japan is changing, and have every confidence (I admit, maybe naively) that it will. And, I think that one of the key things that needs to happen for Japan to liberalize is for the LDP to get knocked around a bit.
Which is just what happened yesterday.
The opposition party, the more liberal Democratic Party of Japan, now controls the parliament's weaker upper house. They can't force Abe to resign (though at this time, there's pressure for him to do so) but they certainly can make the LDP's life more difficult. Again, I don't think that culture can necessarily be legislated, and I don't think that this is the be-all and end-all of what needs to happen in Japan. But nevertheless, I'm quite happy about it.
It'll take a while. It might take a long while. But right now, I do think that Japan is on the right track.


Sydney said...

Mom has always argued that in order to change the public opinion through legislation, you have to do little abstract things first, to lay the groundwork. People will always vote for legislation that simply says things like, "All Oregonians deserve access to health care." Especially if there's no budget impact. If you can get something like that into the constitution, then you have precedent for further legislation years down the road. I don't know if that's legislating cultural change, but I bet it feels like that to the people with the forethought and know-how to do it. :)

Eric said...

Maybe the world is slowly trying to turn into a better place... We can only hope, with 1 and 1/4 years to go before its our turn.

How you doing after the accident? Still sore anywhere? Any cool scars for the chicks to dig on?

Kori the tomorrow lady said...

ooo ooo ooo, do you have any cool scars for chicks to dig??

you know, one of the last elections people got all excited because a bunch of women were elected but then they all turned out to be LDP puppets. it wasnt as much change as people thought. just like Bushie's cabinent has a lot of minorities but that doesn't mean they aren't still dicks.

these new non-LDP guys, are they actually any different? or are they just as economical with the truth? (and who the fuck actually says that?)

SonicLlama said...

Cool scars? I'm afraid not. Sorry, chicks- You'll have to find something else about me to dig.

As for whether or not this will have any lasting effect- I have no idea. The LDP has been pronounced dead before, but has come back on multiple occasions. On paper, the Democratic Party is more liberal, but we'll definitely have to wait and see.

And no one says "economical with the truth." What the fuck is up with that?