Dec 7

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Translator/Interpreter/Writer Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken, 2000-03).  Recently she’s been watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese and sharing some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

政権交代 (seiken koutai) or “change of government,” was announced to be the winner of Japan’s 2009 Buzzword Award on December 1 (Incidentally, last year the title was won byアラフォー」 or “around 40 years old”).  This phrase of course refers to the rise to power by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), overturning over 50 years of Liberal Democratic Party rule.  Other contenders for the buzzword title were 新型インフルエンザ (shingata influenza)  or “new flu” and 草食男子 (soushoku danshi) or “herbivorous men.”

Since the change in administration, Hatoyama has been dealing with 3Ks.  However, this is not referring to the typical usage regarding undesirable 3K jobs that are kitsui (difficult), kitanai (dirty) and kiken (dangerous).  Hatoyama’s very own 3 K’s are kenkin (contribution), keizai (economics), and kichi (military base).

The first K is in regard to a donation scandal plaguing the new Prime Minister. Prosecutors have traced about $10.4 million that his 87-year old mother, Yasuko Hatoyama, provided to him over a five-year period ending in 2008.  Some of that money was reportedly funneled into fake campaign donations, listed as coming from dead people or from people who never contributed.  Last week Hatoyama apologized in parliament for this scandal, but said he will remain prime minister unless prosecuted.  He also said that he will give the public a full explanation when the official inquiry has been completed.

The second K referes to the economic woes currently facing Japan.  The DPJ came into office promising to eliminate wasteful government spending, and one potentially powerful way to chop budgets is to reassess the necessity of projects and programs.  This method is known as jigyo shiwake (sorting out operations) and was developed by Japan Initiative, a private-sector think tank.  It has been used for seven years to review the expenditures of local governments, and is now being implemented at the federal level.  A rough estimate of the budget for the next fiscal year is about 95 trillion Japanese yen.

The final K refers to the relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma in Okinawa.  There was a previous proposal to move it within the prefecture to the Henoko district of Nago, but Japan declared that it will postpone a decision on the relocation until next year.  U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos was in Japan last week, and conveyed Washington’s anger regarding this standstill.  He warned that the Futenma base will remain in its current location permanently unless the two countries go ahead with the agreed upon relocation plan.

Hatoyama not only wants to relocate the base abroad, but intends to redefine the Japan-U.S. alliance as a whole on the occasion of next year’s 50th anniversary of the amendment of the bilateral security treaty.  This is based on a “security arrangement without the permanent presence of U.S. forces in Japan,” part of Hatoyama’s campaign pledge for the 1996 House of Representatives election.  Ironically enough, it has been said that this idea emerged from his time studying at Stanford University in 1976, where he was deeply impressed with Americans’ patriotism and pride while celebrating the bicentennial.

one comment so far...

  • - WIT Life #61: 今年の漢字 Said on December 11th, 2009 at 1:15 pm:

    […] Hideo Higashikokubaru opted for 分 (bun or wakeru) or to divide, saying that “because of the administration change it is a turning point (分岐点 or bunkiten)for this period, and this also refers to the […]

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