The politics of refusing power

Usually, politics is a competition between individuals and factions each of which wants to be, as we say, “in power.”  In Japan, though, there is a political struggle between a faction that wants to put a man in power and that man who does not want the power.

As we blogged about, the party of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won enough seats in parliament to accomplish his goal of revising the Japanese Constitution, which was primarily the work of Gen. Douglas MacArthur after World War II in an effort to ensure that Japan would become a peaceful Democratic nation.  Abe wants to bring back elements of pre-war Japan.  He and his party have connections to a group that wants to bring back both Japanese militarism and Emperor worship.

But now the Emperor has given an unexpected speech in which he rebuked those efforts, including the desire to give him more power and to treat him as a god.  Ironically, those who think the Emperor is a god are opposing him!

[Read more…]

Japan flirts with World War II ideology again

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party has just won a 2/3 majority in both of its houses of legislature, enabling it to amend its Constitution, which had been imposed by the United States after World War II.  The party wants to change the Constitution because it enshrines “the Western European theory of natural human rights,” including the freedom of speech.

Many in the party, including the Prime Minister, belong to a group that believes Japan was in the right during World War II.  These lawmakers want to rebuild Japan’s military capacity and to return to worship of the Emperor. [Read more…]

Eco-imperialism

Japan, where people enjoy a good cut of whale, is pushing back against international anti-whaling rules, which are allegedly nothing more than “eco-imperialism.”  According to the Japanese, it would be as if people in India who believe cattle are sacred would impose punishments on nations that eat beef.

Notice how the various sensitivities we are supposed to have–honoring cultural relativism, respecting the environment, not oppressing anyone, being tolerant of eveyone’s practices and beliefs–can be set against each other.  Can you think of other examples? [Read more…]

At his post 29 years after the war

The Japanese soldier who held out in a Philippine jungle for 29 years after the end of World War II died.  Hiroo Onoda was 91.  Read his story–including why he finally turned himself in– after the jump.

Would you say Lt. Onoda was an example of outrageous stubborness (a vice) or inspirational integrity (a virtue)?  How does this relate to vocation? [Read more…]

A society that is losing interest in sex

Young people in Japan are not only losing interest in marriage.  They are losing interest in relationships altogether.  And they are reportedly taking the next step:  Losing interest in sex. [Read more…]

Economic stimulus as narcotic

Some business teachers and managing consultants still use their yellowed notes about Japan’s economic success, but that is way out of date.  For decades, Japan’s economy has been in the doldrums.  Why?  And why hasn’t their economy ever bounced back?   Economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson says the problem is that Japan has relied on  government stimulus.  Which is basically the strategy our government wants to follow. [Read more…]


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