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Shintaro Ishihara forecast to win the Tokyo election and escape “tenbatsu”

Shintaro Ishihara forecast to win the Tokyo election and escape “tenbatsu”

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Shintaro Ishihara and Tokyo 2011 election

 Shintaro Ishihara and Tokyo 2011 election

According to political pundits then Shintaro Ishihara is forecast to win because he will escape the wrath of his tenbatsu (divine punishment) comment and any possible storm clouds over his tenbatsu theory appear to have fallen by the wayside 

Therefore, the gubernatorial election which takes place this weekend will once more re-elect Ishihara because he is deemed to be the most appropriate leader for the majority of Tokyo voters.  If predictions come true, then Ishihara will be elected for the fourth time and this 78 year old individual is clearly liked by the majority of Tokyo voters because he would be defying his age and longevity in elected office.

Irrespective of your political persuasion or if you like Ishihara or not; the simple truth is that he defies his enemies and not many leading politicians would be re-elected four times in any democratic vote – especially when you take into account his age and the nature of politics in Japan.

It is ironic that national politics is tainted by prime ministers or cabinet ministers either voluntarily stepping down or being forced out of office.  However, for the people of Tokyo it appears to be “play it again Sam.”  

Therefore, Tokyo will continue to be governed by Ishihara who is a controversial leader because he does upset people by stating “off the cuff” comments.  Yet when the chips are down the majority of Tokyoites turn to him because of many factors and during the recent crisis in Japan he seems to be a stabilizing factor.   

Ishihara is also liked because China continues to spend vast sums on its military expenditure and too many Japanese political leaders have bent over backwards in order to appease America’s geopolitical objectives in Northeast Asia and the Pacific Rim.

It is clear that foreign policy objectives are not part of his remit because he is the Governor of Tokyo but his stance on “Japan can say no” and his support for nuclear weapons; is viewed to be welcomed in many circles because too many prime ministers have appeared to be weak and bowed down to external political pressure.

Therefore, many Japanese voters in Tokyo who support Ishihara may oppose his thinking about nuclear weapons, racist comments from time to time, or his views that “Japan can say no.”

Yet overall they like his “perceived strength” and he is very individualistic within the body politic of Japan and irrespective of your political ideology at least you know he exists. The same can’t be said for some of the non-entity political leaders in Japan who have come and gone without any political impact despite being elected to the highest political office.

Of course, many Japanese voters will also support his notion of “Japan can say no” and with the growing rise of China and America’s assertiveness under President Obama; then Ishihara can be viewed to be a patriot and he is proud of his Japanese identity.

It also must be stated that bread and butter politics is the real agenda for the majority of Tokyo voters and the finances of Tokyo are buoyant under Ishihara’s leadership. 

Also, he did focus on pollution and maintaining a world famous city which can compete with any major city in the world.  Yes, you have other global mega-cities which are powerful like Beijing, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, and others; however, Tokyo is dynamic by itself and an economic powerhouse and the city of Tokyo is not in the shadow of any other major city in the world.

It is impossible to state which is the most dynamic city in the world because you have too many different complex factors.  Despite this, the rise of Tokyo and its capital base is still enormous and under the guidance of Ishihara then Tokyo is still growing and is vibrant.

Yasunori Sone, a professor at Tokyo’s Keio University, states that “He has the advantage of already being in office” and “…he projects an image of stability in handling this crisis more than the other candidates.”

Therefore, the tenbatsu (divine punishment) comment by Ishihara where he pointed at the earthquake and tsunami happening because of the shallowness of the spirit within modern Japan and with the ego being too powerful; did not come back to haunt him because according to senior political pundits he will be re-elected.

Ishihara had stated after the earthquake and tsunami that tenbatsu had happened because “America’s identity is freedom. France’s identity is freedom, equality and fraternity.  Japan has no sense of that.  Only greed. Materiality greed (and) monetary greed.” 

“This greed bounds with populism.  These things need to be washed away with the Tsunami.  For many years the heart of Japanese always bounded with (the) devil.”

This almost socialist sounding comment by Ishihara was not aimed at the enormous loss of life in northeastern Japan after the earthquake and tsunami devastated many regions.  After all, Ishihara announced a major economic plan for this region.

Ishihara was commenting about the lack of identity, aloofness of aspects of modern culture, being dominated by outside nations and not having the spirit of vibrancy which made Japan great.

People can disagree vehemently with his comment about tenbatsu but unlike other leading politicians in Japan he refuses to bow down to the party line. 

Therefore, if, like predicted, that he is re-elected then this will be a remarkable achievement because Ishihara is now 78 years old and given the lack of longevity in Japanese politics; then he must be doing something right according to the majority of voters in Tokyo.

Of course, nothing is written and in politics you do sometimes get major shocks when you least expect them but it would appear that Ishihara will be re-elected.

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