Saturday, July 12, 2003

Japanese Politicos’ Darwin Awards

Japanese politicians deserve their own category of Darwin Awards. The Liberal Democratic Party, which some like to call the Japan Republican Party, has been in power so long it smells like feet enclosed too long in shoes. They have been given a run for their money in recent years, but voter apathy, structural rigidity and lack of an inspired opposition have kept them in power. Virtual certainty of continued control allows for corruption, incompetence and boobery in any country, but the way Japan has managed to funnel some of its dimmer wits into politics is worth a Poli Sci Ph.D. dissertation or two; I’d love to see what a clever analyst might come up with to explain the phenomenon.

Back in the 80s there was Prime Minister Nakasone who let it slip that he felt sorry for America because it had so many blacks and hispanics pulling down their IQ level. When Jesse Jackson said, “Whoa there, pardner,” Nakasone insisted he was only talking to his cronies and the media had no right to take his remarks out of context. Yeah, right. What was that context there, Yasu? (Yasuhiro Nakasone and Ronald Reagan were pals. They called each other “Ron” and “Yasu.”)

There are the usual xenophobes who suck on people’s fear of difference and the unknown, like the Governor of Tokyo who wants to get the police ready so that if there is a natural disaster the city’s fair citizens will not be overrun by foreign criminals. But that kind of pandering is hardly a uniquely Japanese phenomenon.

No, I’m thinking more of the guy recently who announced, after a scandal hit the papers of a club at Waseda University that was into raping their dates, “It just shows the virility of the younger generation.”

And of the guy in the paper today. The country is in shock at the moment, so you might want to give him a little slack. But after the news hit the stands that the four year old found dead last week after being thrown off a building was actually killed by a twelve year old, everybody is doing what they always do with such information, asking how the nation got into such a mess and looking for scapegoats. Anyway, this guy – Konoike is his name – has now come up with a course of action. “Drag his parents through the streets and behead them,” he suggests.

All right, all right, I hear you say. He’s only saying out loud what millions are thinking. But really, folks, this guy is not only a public figure; he’s the (are you ready for this?) Minister for Disaster Prevention and Deputy Head of a government panel on youth problems.

Once we learn the whole set of circumstances and have a clearer idea of the degree to which mom and pop are responsible for this tragic figure, who knows? We might actually be persuaded to go along with this punishment.

But only if the twits that put Konoike in this position are subjected to the same punishment.

July 12, 2003