Aug 30

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

Yesterday’s NYT had an article about the rise of Japan’s very own Tea Party.  It profiles the rise of the Zaitokukai, or the Citizens Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan.  In comparison to old-line rightist groups this movement is known as the Net right, as they are organized via the Internet and come together for demonstrations.  The article focused on their protest last December at an elementary school for ethnic Koreans.  This year they also picketed theaters showing the documentary The Cove, which they perceive to be anti-Japanese.  The group is led by a 38-year old man who insists that foreigners have caused Japan to go in the wrong direction (members even harassed some Westerners for wearing Halloween costumes!).  The far right writes them off as amateur attention seekers, but nevertheless this is a disturbing trend.

In WSJ coverage this morning, there is discussion of how a majority of the Japanese populace is still supporting PM Naoto Kan despite economic and political troubles.  On September 14 there will be a DPJ internal vote, and at this time Kan will be challenged by party rival Ichiro Ozawa.  Should Ozawa win, he would become the third prime minister since the DPJ took power in September [and] the seventh national leader in less than four years.  He resigned as a top party official in June due to a campaign finance scandal, but is said to have close ties to opposition parties which could help strengthen the DPJ.

In order to remedy the soaring yen, Kan met today with central bank officials and plans to unveil a new economic stimulus package tomorrow.  The Bank of Japan plans to introduce their own stimulus proposals in the next few days.  In the Kyodo News poll featured in this article, 52% of respondents said the most immediate tasks for the DPJ are jump-starting the economy and securing employment.  Indeed, the Zaitokukai’s success has largely been attributed to the country’s economic decline, and the 9000 person group consists primarily of young males who bounce from job to job, feel disenfranchised and are looking for someone to blame.  A quote from a 37-year old member appeals, “Japan has a shrinking pie.  Should we be sharing it with foreigners at a time when Japanese are suffering?”

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