Osaka Mayor’s Radical Message Has Broad Appeal With Japanese – NYTimes.com

The beauty of democracy is that you get to change things up.  Maybe we can call it Teahouse Party Politics in Japan?

“Mr. Hashimoto has appeared at a time when discontent at Japan’s collusive politics is building” toward an eruption, said Katsuhito Yokokume, a lawmaker from Tokyo who quit the governing Democratic Party last year and wants to join Mr. Hashimoto. “The people feel betrayed by established political parties.”

The changes Mr. Hashimoto proposes would be nothing short of radical: to dismantle Japan’s heavily centralized government, once seen as its strength but now viewed as thwarting reform. His party aims to replace what exists with an American-style federalism in which newly created states would hold greater control over their regions. The party also wants voters to directly choose the prime minister, who is now selected by Parliament.

via Osaka Mayor’s Radical Message Has Broad Appeal With Japanese – NYTimes.com.

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5 thoughts on “Osaka Mayor’s Radical Message Has Broad Appeal With Japanese – NYTimes.com

  1. Matthew Merrill says:

    There is a certain allure to cutting inefficient government spending and breaking political stagnation. This allure is only added upon when campaign pledges and promises are actually implemented and ultimately turn out to be successful. Amazingly, Mr. Hashimoto has managed to do both of these things (to a degree) and in a relatively short amount of time. While it is admirable to advocate reform and transparency in government, there have been those in Japan that feel Mr. Hashimoto is a little too radical. Tsuneo Watanabe, chairman of a large Japanese conglomerate, said that some of Mr. Hashimoto’s tactics (i.e. saying elections are a time to wipe the slate clean) resemble those of Hitler’s before his rise to power. Imagine the furor that would result if a 3rd party candidate in America suddenly became extremely popular and upstaged “politics as usual.” Do you think the established politicians would be up in arms?

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120327a3.html

  2. I think that it is interesting to see certain members in Japanese society pushing for something new. In my studies of the Japanese culture I have found that they are for the most part very traditional in their views and are often very hesitant to rise up and push for something new. I have to applaud them in their efforts, for I think that a society needs a little opposition so that it can be shaped and molded into something better. While I’m not sure that a complete government upheaval where there is complete reform is necessarily the best idea, I do think that it is good that people are proposing other ideas.

  3. Japan has long been a developed country. The conservative yet individualistic nature of the people and country have preserved a centralized system in which the government remains very powerful and relevant. The fashion-forward Japanese pioneer avant-garde styles that compete with that of New York and Paris. On the other hand, the government cleaves to conservative, religious tendencies that epitomize the dualistic nature of the country. I have mixed feelings about radical change in Japan’s government because the centralized system has allowed the the government to react quickly in times of disaster (3/11) and also serve as an economic buffer.

  4. Merrill, after reading the link that you posted, I would have to argue that any comparisons of Hashimoto to fascist despots are baseless. The article notes Hashimoto’s strong (seemingly) grassroots support by mentioning the opening of a training institute run by Hashimoto and aimed at training new political leaders through lectures in tax, bureaucracy reform, economics, diplomacy, and international relations. This sounds less like fascist indoctrination, and more like desperately needed civic engagement. In a political environment as stagnant as Japan, it is not hard to see why a new challenger would cause such a stir amongst the establishment. However, the Japanese political system is in dire need of such a shock.

    I have argued that his party will have an overall positive effect on Japan’s political process, but I have done this while ignoring his policy platform. Here’s another article from the Japan Times that provides a little more information:

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120722rp.html

    What do you think about Hashimoto’s possible impact on Japanese politics now?

  5. This was an interesting article. Having returned from Japan just a few months ago, I can certainly attest to the high levels of frustration toward politicians in Japan. I always felt like Japanese people are very slow to trust their government, and are often vocal about their mistrust and suspicion of governmental officials. The Japanese government has been under the influence of shady groups since the end of World War II, and I think it’s very interesting that such radical changes are being proposed. I really wonder how far they will go. Although people may be fed up with the government, Japanese people in general try very hard to avoid conflict, and the drama that would come with heavy changes to the government seems like something that they would find very undesirable.

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