Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Does Abe have nothing to worry about come July?

From the English-language blogosphere's resident Abe apologist comes another post arguing that all is well in Abe's beautiful Japan.

Hey, Ampontan, do you do this pro bono, or is there some kind of secret yarase blogger program run out of the Kantei? If the latter, is it too late to sign up?

I think, if the price was right, I could write posts with titles like "Let us all thank our Dear Leader for making Japan so beautiful," "Never stop being so gorgeous Japan," and "How did you get so gosh darn beautiful in the first place?"

Scratch that. I would rather ask pointed questions than make excuses, even if it doesn't pay nearly as well.

Seriously though, does Ampontan really think that this whole sordid Matsuoka affair is going to vanish overnight? This is unprecedented in the political history of modern Japan: a sitting cabinet minister committing suicide, as investigators began to uncover gross misuse of his ministry to favor political supporters. While it remains too soon to tell what impact it will have on July's elections, it is also too soon to wave it off by suggesting that Matsuoka's death will "close the book" on the seiji to kane issue of which he was emblematic.

I love Ampontan's alternative: pocketbook issues are what matter, so let's all stop paying attention to the massive corruption — and the government's alleged role in covering it up — and talk about how Japan's economy is growing again. No mention, of course, about the lingering doubts about the depth and breadth of the recovery (Ken Worsley's Japan Economy News blog has documented the bevy of mixed signals on the "longest sustained expansion" in the postwar period). This just doesn't hold water. And Ampontan doesn't even ask the obvious question of whether the Japanese people, the people who will, you know, be voting in July, are actually benefiting from The Longest Sustained Expansion in Postwar Japan. [Ed. - Laying it on a bit thick, aren't we?]

Arguably that's why the pensions scandal — which Ampontan also seems to dismiss — is important. When people are economically insecure, they tend to worry about reports that their source of income may be disrupted due to government incompetence. Is it really appropriate to doubt that the pensions scandal might be important in a country in which the percentage of over-65s in the population is set to rise sharply?

All of which goes to say that it's impossible to say at this point what issue will move this election. In Japan, more than in the US, all politics is local (to use a quote from American politics that it's even more appropriate for Japan than the quote used by Ampontan for the title of his post), making it difficult to tell which issues that seem important at the national level will filter down to the local level and affect voter behavior.

But that is no excuse for saying that all is well because the economy is growing: there are plenty of reasons for Japan's voters to "throw the bums out," even if it is unclear whether they will opt to do so (another topic of discussion entirely).


Anonymous said...


I've been reading your blog for a while.Nice work.

Having said that,I must confess it was pretty depressing to see Beijing wall paper-like accusation from one blogger to another occures like this without any debate involved.

I understand Ampontan's writing is not within the norms of expat Japan bloggers.
He does not paint groom-and-doom pitures of Japan that much,he also does not talk about Japanese politics from afar at one point,and then start micromanaging with a ten thousand mile screw driver.
He also does not preach things like damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't-manner from elevated position,which makes him distinctively different from other expat bloggers on the subject.

I don't agree with Ampontan all the time and in this case,you were right about Ampontan(and Abe)turns out to be wrong.

But the way you've presented this was not very fair to Ampontan to my eyes and made me pretty skeptic about factual accuracy about other contents in your blog.

So is Ampontan actually taking money from office of Shinzo Abe?
or is this just another character assassination by a policy wonk wannabe,an increasing political trend of Bush-era America imstalled in Japan blogsphere.


Japan Observer said...


I apologize. This post was not one of my finest, in that it was more sarcastic than usual. At the time I was frustrated, in that every post Ampontan wrote it seemed that he was making excuses for the Abe government, despite serious problems with how Mr. Abe governed.

The yarase line was just a joke.

Anonymous said...

Hey.Don't apologize to me for anything.
You are doing fine job at your blog and all.

I'm not trying to be any agent of influence for Ampontan.
But couple of month ago,I've read the site of Mindy Kotler's Asian Policy Point website and Ampontan's blog was reffered as
"Japan's Conservative Nationalist Project".
It has a link with this sentence.

"Est. January 2007 by an American expat in Kyushu. He parrots Japanese reactionary conservative websites and viewpoints. His choice of topics and timing are suspiciously close to one that a PR professional may choose who was speaking for MOFA. Also posts travelogue-type descriptions of charming Japanese festivals. Ampontan is a misspelling of Anpontan, Japanese for a simpleton."

And I saw a post from Garret Deorio of TPR on Ampontan's blog and asked if he was a lobbyist.

And I've found this on yours.

I shouldn't even be that serious about things on internet.
But I was just curious whether there was some concrete basis on accusation or simply a bad joke
among bloggers.

I thank you for an honest reply.
My trust upon the blog has now restored.


Anonymous said...

Aceface would have a bit more credibility if s/he could spell and write English. Having to wade through illiterate blogs is downright offensive. And accusing the blogger of being a ' Bush-era America imstalled [sic.] in Japan blogsphere' smacks of ethnocentrism - I don't recognise any 'Bush-like' tendencies in these blogs. In fact, Bush might learn a lot about Japan if he read them - not that he reads anything except his speeches/TV prompters. The blogs are extremely informative and facilitate debate on current politico-economic developments in Japan. Keep it up!!!