Japanese politics and the crushing of democracy: Yes, another Koizumi rises quickly!
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Political apathy in Japan isn’t something new but in some recent elections just below 50 percent didn’t bother to vote – or, slightly over 50 percent did. Thus, the usual dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party continues despite some minor breaks from power. Equally galling, the hereditary political class just keeps on cherry-picking. Therefore, the ministerial rise of Shinjiro Koizumi at such a tender age is extremely depressing because he appears to be following in the footsteps of his father, Junichiro Koizumi who is a former prime minister of Japan.
Hence, while some hereditary political names may come and go based on the fickle nature of normal politics, one expects the elite club of children to persist to at least ministerial level. Others, of course, will reach the very top. Therefore, in the last few years, the names of Tatsuo Fukuda, Gaku Hashimoto, Yasutaka Nakasone, and Yuko Obuchi have popped up alongside Shinjiro Koizumi.
All the above have former prime ministers in their bloodline be it directly through their respective fathers or grandfathers. Of course, the same applies to the current prime minister of Japan. After all, the maternal grandfather of the current leader of Japan also led the nation (Nobusuke Kishi). Likewise, his father (Shintaro Abe) reached an extremely high ministerial position.
Indeed, only a relatively small percentage of political leaders that have governed Japan come from non-political families since the ending of World War Two. In this sense, and with the LDP mainly governing Japan decade after decade, the Chinese Communist Party and the dictatorial one-party-state must be jealous.
Ten years ago the New York Times reported, “Such family dynasties are common across Japan, the product of more than a half-century of Liberal Democratic Party control that allowed lawmakers to build powerful local political machines and then hand them down to children and grandchildren.”
Hence, the news that Shinjiro Koizumi is now the third-youngest postwar minister is extremely depressing. Yet another “political silver spoon” is emerging rapidly. Therefore, the Japanese media should be condemning this non-democratic approach to politics instead of either welcoming the news on the whole – or being extremely placid.
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