Monday, September 17, 2007

Aso popular among young because he likes comic books

Pretty slick. In Japan Focus a few months ago, there was an article about Aso (or one which at least discussed him) in which they mentioned how he tried to play down his elitist background with a sort of rough-edged common man act. (Remember his opposition to allowing a female to become empress because she might marry a "blue-eyed foreigner" and therefore, send the whole country to hell I suppose.) One could not deny that he seems very common, but you could question his sincerity. He, like Abe comes from a family deeply involved in WW2's extreme misadventures. Abe is the son of a former prime minister who was charged with war crimes---the charges later dropped. (I will have to check and see exactly why they were dropped---the US reversal after the Chinese communists took power?) Aso's family owned mines which used POWs for forced labor. The family and company has continued to pretend that everything was wonderful there: Upon release, the POWs even thanked them for such lovely treatment during the forced labor.

Aso, who as foreign minister started an international cartoon award, talked at length about comic books. (He also suggested that Japan could help non-Japanese accept Japan's foreign policy through comic books.)

He may be the underdog in the race to become prime minister, but with his love of comic books and streetwise talk of pop culture, Taro Aso has plenty of support among Japan's disillusioned youth.

He was on TV this morning talking about how Japan should prevent too much competition because not all companies can be successful---some suffer. In other words, the limited reforms that Japan started under Koizumi should be rolled back. It has already started. This should be a warning to folks who think Japan is going to be an open, meritocratic country. Meritocracy was never much of a part of Japan's history---a class system and old-boys' club has been. (As I recall, Chinese Confucianism promoted meritocracy via civil service exams and with the idea that the emperor could lose the "Mandate of Heaven": that he/she was fallible. Japan's version of Confucianism was used by Tokugawa to officially stratify the classes and relationship with the government. And there was never, ever, any hint that the emperor was in any way fallible.)

Italicized quotes above are from AFP's Aso story here.

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