Japan Probe has been getting better lately.
Kevin Maher resurfaced with a book about the Japanese government’s inability to solve crises, called “The Japan that Can’t Decide”. I am still waiting for the English translation of it. I’m assuming that it’s James who is giving the run-down on what Maher has been thinking.
Maher’s main theme is that consensus building (nemawashi) doesn’t work in situations where there is no solution that satisfies everyone, or where there is a crisis afoot. He gives numerous examples where Japan falls behind, or suffers needless catastrophe and death, because, as he suggests, no one takes charge. (But my own feeling is that the real deciders aren’t dragged from the shadows to make the decisions.)
I don’t know if Maher’s book discusses the idea that Japan is really more of a plutocracy—like America–run by handfuls of very wealthy people, who do and get away with whatever their money and opposing organized interests let them get away with. It would explain a lot about why problems never seem to get solved.
Maher has been associated with that right-winger, Reagan-era, strong North Pacific defense club. They see China as a threat whether the Maoists run it, or anyone else. In this club, “stable North Pacific” means no one rocks the boat of the Pacific Elite. No one (on this side) asks questions about where the money is going, and who gets what. On the Japan side, it means just do whatever the commercial and military interests think is best.
So the standoff about the Okinawa deployment is wrapped into the crisis surrounding Fukushima. It’s a point well taken that nemawashi doesn’t work, but I wish more was included about how, when it comes to dealing with foreigners, nemawashi is put forward as this high ideal. Nemawashi, there, is really taraimawashi (telephone tag or the run-around.) Japanese are very good at snapping to attention, and going “HAI HAI HAI!” It’s just a matter of who they do this for.
I feel there is a lot of “HAI HAI HAI!” but it is for the powerful money interests in the shadows, not for the general public. Just like in America.