Daily Archives: 27 September 2005

Gushy New Pol Wins Jackpot, Catches Flak

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party won so many Diet seats in the recent election that they had to exhaust their proportional representation lists in the Kanto area. A gushy, 26-year-old political novice was one of the lucky beneficiaries. And now he’s catching a lot of flak from his new colleagues for gawking publicly at all his new perks. Mainichi Shimbun has more.

According to Shukan Bunshun (9/29), the former brokerage worker’s entrance into politics was inspired by, in his own words, “a yearning like girls have to become idol singers.”

Bunshun says that Sugimura was surfing the Net at work one day a few months back and noticed that the LDP was advertising for candidates to run in upcoming elections.

“Oh wow. Oh boy. They’re looking for candidates. Oh wow, wow, wow. Jeepers,” Sugimura recalls his reaction for Shukan Bunshun.

Sugimura promptly whipped out an essay in about half an hour, faxed off an application form and received an endorsement certificate from the ruling party, which he proudly boasted would become a family heirloom for centuries.

When Sugimura was listed in 35th position on the LDP’s proportional representation ticket for the Minami Kanto block, nobody dreamed he’d actually get into office. Sugimura told reporters his campaign consisted of a single speech and he had no campaign office or posters. But the LDP won the election in a landslide, carrying 26 of those listed above him to single-seat victories, which raised Sugimura further and further up the LDP ticket and gave him the seat that sparked such excitement for both him and reporters.

But, all good things must come to an end. Though Sugimura can be comforted in the knowledge that, until the next election at least, he’s going to be showered with a whole truckload of creature comforts, LDP honchos are furious at his over-enthusiastic reaction to becoming a member of the government. LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe has issued a strict order to Sugimura to “shut up.”

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Hirohito: Obsessed with His Past?

Hirohito’s European and American visits [in 1971 and 1975, respectively], together with his various press interviews, helped the Japanese people to reengage with the long-buried question of his war responsibility. But for Hirohito the foreign tours and the interviews had no such effect. For him, the event that triggered a confrontation with the past was more personal. Certain reminiscences on the war by his brother, Prince Takamatsu, had appeared in the February 1975 issue of the popular journal Bungei shunjû. Hirohito seems not to have learned about the article until January 1976. Interviewed on the war by journalist Kase Hideaki, Prince Takamatsu implied that he had been a dove and Hirohito a reckless hawk. He told of the incident on November 30, 1941, when he had spoken to his brother for five minutes, warning him that the navy high command could feel confident only if the war lasted no longer than two years. Takamatsu also recalled warning his brother to end the war right after the Battle of Midway. And he told how, in June 1944, he had shocked a meeting of staff officers at Navy General Headquarters by telling them that “Since the absolute defense perimeter has already been destroyed … our goal should be to focus on the best way to lose the war.” Finally, Takamatsu revealed that he and Prince Konoe had considered asking the emperor to abdicate prior to surrender.

Learning of these disclosures, Hirohito grew very upset. He felt his brother had gone too far. What could he do to save his reputation as emperor? For the first time since he dictated his “Monologue” and, with Inada Shûichi and Kinoshito Michio, made the first “Record of the Emperor’s Conversations” (Haichôroku), Hirohito returned to the task of setting the historical record straight. The project to record the events of his reign and define the place that he would occupy in history focused on his role during the years of war and occupation. It quickly turned into a consuming interest that haunted him for the rest of his life. By nature the least self-reflective of men, Hirohito became obsessed with his past.

SOURCE: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, by Herbert P. Bix (HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 677-678

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Attitudes toward Okinawa in Japan, 1945-1947

On September 20, 1947, Hirohito conveyed to MacArthur’s political adviser, William J. Sebald, his position on the future of Okinawa. Acting through Terasaki, his interpreter and frequent liaison with high GHQ officials, the emperor requested that, in view of the worsening confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, the American military occupation of Okinawa and other islands in the Ryukyu chain continue for ninety-nine years. Hirohito knew MacArthur’s latest views on the status of Okinawa when he made this offer. [MacArthur had been quoted as saying, “The Ryukyus are our natural frontier” and “the Okinawans are not Japanese.”] The emperor’s thinking on Okinawa was also fully in tune with the colonial mentality of Japan’s mainstream conservative political elites, who, like the national in general, had never undergone decolonization. Back in December 1945, the Eighty-ninth Imperial Diet had abolished the voting rights of the people of Okinawa along with those of the former Japanese colonies of Taiwan and Korea. Thus, when the Ninetieth Imperial Diet had met in 1946 to accept the new “peace” constitution, not a single representative of Okinawa was present.

SOURCE: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, by Herbert P. Bix (HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 626-627

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