Sep 3, 2008

Sayonara, Fukuda-San

Yesterday, Yasuo Fukuda resigned as prime minister. Like Shinzo Abe before him, he was in office for less than a year and had approval ratings hovering at about 30%.

For decades, Japan has been run by the same conservative political institution, the Liberal Democratic Party. Over the past two years the government has led the economy into a recession and garnered apathy and dissatisfaction from the electorate. The opposition, the Democratic Party, did make some significant gains in the last election, but not enough to seize governance from the LDP.

Where, I wonder, is the outrage? Where, even, is the pissed-offedness?

Every student with whom I've talked about politics has said that they didn't think much of the current administration. They don't believe that they government can or should do very much, and when I've asked them to name a politician they really like, they've almost always named Barack Obama. I don't want to draw broad political conclusions from my own biased experience, but it seems that people here just aren't angry enough about their government.

The Japanese economy was called a "miracle" at one point- it went from a pile of rubble to the second largest in the world. Now it's in recession. Why aren't people more riled up about this? Why do they keep electing the LDP over and over again even after that party hasn't delivered? Why isn't there a more vocal opposition? Where is the discontentment that forments change?

As someone for whom politics is an addiction and passion, I find it all frustrating. I hope I'm wrong, that the next round of elections sweeps in some new coalition government. I hope that I'm misreading the situation, that there's passion out there and I've just missed it.



Sydney said...

Are you going to vote by absentee ballot? Have you been keeping up with US politics or has it totally blown your mind to the point where you wonder what in the hell is going on over here?

SonicLlama said...

Of course I'm voting. Oh, god yes, I'm voting.

It's a friken' American Presidential race! There are fewer grander, uglier, filthier, and flashier spectacles than that. No way something as little as the Pacific Ocean can keep my away from it.

Kori the tomorrow lady said...

Really, I've had students say that Fukuda isn't so bad. Personally, I don't have an opinion, though.

So many Americans talk and talk and stress out about politics and don't do F***all. I find the Japanese attitude healthier to some extent. Bitching with your friends about politics is really not much different vs spending your energy on something else...

what do you hope "verbal outrage" will accomplish?

How often do you catch me debating politics? It's not that I don't care. I've canvassed before and I'll do it again because I see that as action and worthwhile.

And of course I'm voting. And I'm going to give money too. But I'm not going to talk and talk and talk about it.

SonicLlama said...

I don't think that verbal outrage in and of itself will accomplish anything, but I do think that outrage channeled into action can accomplish things. My main point of befuddlement is how on earth the LDP keeps getting elected over and over again. That, and the rather creepy pseudo-hereditary thing that the Diet has going on- most of the current politicians had political daddies.

So, I wonder why there isn't any new blood, why there isn't any call to throw out the old guard and hand the government over to someone else? Talking can be either constructive or simply bitching, but I'm most concerned about voting. All LDP all the time does not a constructive democracy make.

T said...

Perhaps this is simply a sign that Obama is going to rule the world. I think I'll leave it at that.