Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Calling out the generalissimo

The DPJ has issued another campaign flier featuring a comic strip that tells the story of how the Abe government learned of disappearing pension payments in December 2006 and covered it up until questioned by DPJ Diet members in May.

Here is the last panel:

This panel asks, "For what purpose is the election postponed?" In the foreground, Abe says, "The Diet session was extended in order to pass the administrative reform bill," to which the DPJ bluebird replies, "What administrative reform law! Didn't you just make a state-managed 'amakudari temporary staffing company [haken kaisha]?" In the background, meanwhile, Abe and his cackling LDP cronies talk about the real reasons for delaying the elections: "Let's delay the election by all means. The people will soon forget." "If we make it in summer," says his advisor, "no one will be here." The bluebird replies, "I wonder to what extent they look down upon the people."

This panel is interesting as much for what it reveals about the DPJ's fears approaching the election as for what it reveals about the DPJ's thoughts about the Abe Cabinet. Undoubtedly the DPJ leadership is gravely concerned that Abe's Diet extension stunt will work: the month will pass, memories of the government's incompetence will wilt in the summer heat, and the government will emerge from the election a bit scrapped up but still in command of the Upper House — with two years to do whatever they wish before having to face the voters again. But the party also, of course, sincerely believes that the Abe Cabinet's vision of Japan is one wholly at odds with the concerns of the people they claim to represent. Just in case readers are unclear on that, the flier's back cover removes all doubt:

There he is, the commander in chief himself, resplendent in a uniform not unlike those favored by Latin American strongmen (and labeled with his favorite phrase — hint, it contains the word beautiful), surrounded by symbols of his government's dismal failures: the lost pensions, which "broke future dreams;" the juminzei tax hike, which bullied the weak; the decision to approve textbooks that claimed that the military had nothing to do with ordering Okinawans to commit collective suicide; and the renewed dispatch to Iraq. And then there's the mug shots of his advisers, including Foreign Minister Aso, who suggested that Japan consider a debate on developing a nuclear arsenal, former Administrative Reform Minister Sada, who misused political funds, Tax Commission Chairman Honma, who had a discounted love nest in Tokyo, Health Minister Yanagisawa, who insisted that women are baby-making machines, and lastly, the late Matsuoka Toshikatsu and his expensive fresh water. It was printed too early to include former Defense Minister Kyuma in the rogue's gallery. (Meanwhile, the uniform is a not-so-subtle reminder of Abe's family history and the provenance of some ideas favored by him and his cronies.)

This is actually similar to a suggestion I made a month ago: the DPJ should make "a video compilation of all of Abe's apologies for gross mistakes made by his government, with a cameo or two from Ministers Yanagisawa, Kyuma, Aso, and, of course, Mr. Nakagawa." While this flier is considerably less effective than a video that would let Abe and his ministers speak for themselves, the idea is the same. Time and time again, the government has given the opposition ammunition for its campaign. It's about time they put it to good use, although, that said, it is unclear how exactly voters will respond to this. Will it be enough to make them put off their vacation, or else submit an absentee ballot to register their disgust with the generalissimo's government?


MTC said...

A terminolgy question: the poster calls the tax that has been raised the jūminzei, not the shiminzei.

Also, are the cartoons a local product or a national one? The layout, print quality and artwork are terrible. Having Matsuoka's head covering up the Prime Minister's crotch is embarrassing, if not obscene.

Japan Observer said...

Ah, yes. Oops. Thanks.

And it's not a local product — it's evidently to be distributed nationwide.

As for the quality, Ozawa's doodles at a meeting? For a country known worldwide for its cartoons, the production quality is indeed embarrassing.

Julián Ortega Martínez said...

I guess you've read the last Yomiuri editorial, slamming DPJ for the way Ozawa attacked Kyuma and demanded an US apology for Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, which is an "obtuse statement" to the Yomiuri guys...

Interesting cartoon of Abe, no matter the bad execution. We don't like those uniformes here...