Tokyo Diary: 10/16/12 – Ishihara Quits

Ishihara Shintaro, the racist, xenophobic politician who wrote books glorifying the rape of teenaged girls and got Bill 156 passed, has quit as Governor of Tokyo. Clearly he’s decided this town isn’t big enough for the both of us, so you’re welcome.

Sadly, the other side of the story is that Ishihara is quitting so that he can try and influence the national government to be more nationalist and hate-driven too – he laced his announcement speech with racist terms for Koreans and Chinese. He’s joining forces with the nationalist governor of Osaka to try and be a power-broker on the national stage, with the next round of elections likely to produce a splintered parliament.  With the current government unpopular (as usual) and the Liberal Democrats now under the leadership of one of their more xenophobic titans, Abe Shinzo, there’s a good chance the next government of Japan is going to be led by the nationalist wing of the LibDem’s propped up by even more nationalist smaller parties.

On a happier note, here’s a few pics of Inokashira Park near Kichijoji, a 10-minute walk from my house.  I posted some shots of Inokashira during Sakura season during my last trip.  Also, one pic of a building I stumbled on in Shibuya which I swear is one of the Gates of Mordor.  Also – we had a 5.5 quake yesterday in Ibaraki, but I didn’t even feel it so I guess that means I’m getting used to the place.


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  1. G

    Thanks for the pictures Enzo! I love the calm feeling in these pictures and those two birds are adorable.

    There is a lot of tension between Japan and Korea/China right now. The disputes over the island is triggering another round of "anti-Japan" protests, and the Japanese government isn't taking it so well. And there is greater turbulence beneath the resource war that's rooted in the memories of the pain Japan inflicted on its neighbouring countries during WW2, for which they deny to this very day. I think history can be forgiven, but never forgotten. What the Japanese government is doing is going to trigger a violent backlash sooner or later.

  2. The Democrats didn't really want to set off this whole fiasco, but it was Ishihara's plan to have Tokyo's government buy the islands that forced their hand. The more influence guys like he and Hashimoto Toro have on national politics the worse off the country is going to be.

  3. A

    Which islands are we talking about here. Last I remember there was also a scuffle between Japan and Taiwan over some neighboring islands as well, so it's like a melting pot of unrest in the entire Asian pacific region

  4. Senkaku Islands, recently bought by the Japanese govt. from a private Japanese owner and claimed by both Taiwan and China.

  5. G

    Well, here is a mini lesson. It's historically owned by China and Taiwan, at least on paper, though the state of things has always been hazy in practice because no one cared about a small island at that time. During WWII, Japan took control of the islands, and at the end of WWII with Japan's surrender, the sovereignty of island was debated. It was governed by the U.S for a while, during which China was busy with civil war, so the government didn't want to disperse their attention over an island, and U.S took the liberty to transfer the governing rights to Japan, though not the ownership. So technically, everyone has some sort of historical connection to the island, but no one cared enough to bring up the issue back in the days because there was little to gain from it. Things are different now that abundant resources are discovered near the island.

    @Enzo, Some would say that it's all for show. There needed to be instigator, and Ishihara willingly became the scapegoat to secure votes for his son, who was running for election. But you'll never know the whole story with politics. There are a number of voters who want Japan to take a more assertive position in this matter, and the rise in power for the right wing reflects that will, though of course, you could also argue it's the other way around. I don't really know the details either, but I think if a regional war does break out, it won't simply be a war between Japan and China.

  6. S

    Japan has a train wreck approaching quickly and since their national politics are locked up in just playing around the edges, expect more severe types to keep popping to the surface. It's the nature of these types of things.

    Granted, since that train wreck is their national debt, at least they don't have the money to start a war anytime soon. But war in East Asia isn't going to look like it used to. It's all about the submarines, which could easily cause a world-wide recession if even "mild" issues actually pop up. Not a place we all want to be. (Though that's exactly why this is more bluster from China, who also knows its a US Presidential election year, so they have more room to play with)

  7. L

    Seriously, they're just a bunch of stupid relatively insignificant islands. It really goes to show how out of date the mentality of these nationalists are.

  8. A

    The whole issue kinda reminds me of two parents who were always neglecting their child, only to start fighting for custody after the child suddenly became a Hollywoodstar…

  9. J

    I may not always comment on these articles, but do know I'm reading all of them. It's nice to know what's going on at Japan's government. Keep it up!

  10. T

    1) As I get depressed over the state of American politics (not going into further details for tact's sake), it's good to have a reminder that politics can be rotten pretty much everywhere. I find that weirdly reassuring.

    2) Wow that is a really pretty park.

  11. l

    On the subject of interesting buildings, managed to visit Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan . This is one of the two remaining Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the whole of Japan. The only one still intact in Tokyo. Wasn't able to go within the building as there was a wedding function that day. It is otherwise open to the public to visit.

    A few more pics of the building complex:
    Main building
    Corridors of the main building
    Auditorium cum church across the main building

  12. S

    Thanks for the pictures. Wright's work is always interesting, so its great to see some of his lesser known buildings, especially outside of the USA.

  13. A

    So Ishihara is basically a Japanese Republican?

  14. S

    No. Though posting that does show how small minded you are.

    Ishihara doesn't compare with much of anything in the US political experience in the post-WW2 era, mostly as we don't have mid-power positions like he occupied with regards to Tokyo. Mostly as its really hard to be Nativist in the USA when the largest plurality of descendent is from Germany.

  15. C

    Run for prime minister Enzo

  16. Considering how a gaijin who's lived here 15 years, owns an apartment and is married to a Japanese woman can't even be a guarantor for a rental, that seems unlikely.

  17. S

    The Japanese don't really believe in immigration. That's the nice way to put it.

  18. v

    Just checked on the wikipedia page but I've seen enough to make a comparison that Ishihara is like 80 years old Japanese Cartman. He just says whatever is on his mind no matter how controversial they would be and seems to enjoy sitting back and relax after he just added more fuel on fire in Senkaku Islands dispute. I'm sure that's not the only trouble he caused, oh the bill rights for the youth safety. In the end ironically, the only one causing more trouble for Japan is himself, it is a bit funny.

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