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On December 16th, Japanese people will go to the polls to choose a new government. Everyone knows that Japanese people tend not to be interested in politics, and I know that many of you do not like talking about this topic, but it might not be an exaggeration to say that Japan’s future is riding on the election this time.

Actually, Japan’s general election has been receiving a lot of coverage in the Western media. Here is a list of the main points that people have been talking about.

1. The DPJ came to power promising change, but they have failed to deliver. They have also spent a lot of time fighting and arguing with each other instead of running the country. As a result, it is likely that the LDP will win this time.

2. The leader of the LDP is an ex-prime minister who was generally seen as a failure the first time around.

3. Japanese politics seems to be moving further and further to the right, with many nationalist politicians gaining popularity. This may have a big effect on Japan’s relations with its neighbours, particularly China and Korea.

People sometimes ask me whether I can vote in the elections. The answer is that I cannot. I have permanent residency in Japan, but I would only be able to vote if I changed my nationality and became Japanese. Of course, I would never do that because it would mean giving up my British passport.

To be honest, I have to admit that I do not usually pay much attention to Japanese politics either, but this time, I am quite concerned about the direction Japan will take if the LDP get back into power.

Mr. Abe is saying that he is going to spend trillions of yen on construction projects in order to boost the economy. He might be right, but as we all know, Japan already has huge debts, and this may well make things worse. I can’t help thinking that the last thing Japan needs is to go back to the old way of doing things.

The other thing that worries me is that the LDP seem to be in favour of pushing ahead with the development of nuclear power. After the disaster at Fukushima, I find it hard to believe that any Japanese people would vote for a party who are pro-nuclear, but it seems that a lot of people are going to do just that.

Anyway, I would be very interested to hear what Japanese voters (that’s you, by the way!) think about the candidates and their policies. If you are not interested in the elections, I hope you will write a comment explaining why. If you are interested, please tell me what the most important factors will be for you when you decide who to vote for.

Look forward to hearing your opinions.

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38 Comments

  1. Biwa on Monday December 10th, 2012 at 09:58 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I might make lots of enemies by saying this, but I’m for the DPJ. To be honest, I can’t understand why so many Japanese seem to support the LDP. I don’t think Mr. Noda was a bad leader. He spent most of his time fighting with the non-government parties and I think he didn’t have enough time or chance to really run the country. I’d like to give him another chance to do that.
    Moreover, I think it’s absolutely necessary for us to join the TPP talk, but the LDP seems to have negative opinions. I’m not sure but maybe they don’t want to lose the rice-makers’ votes.
    The LDP says that they’re going to change the country, but I don’t think that would be a good change at all.



  2. YU on Monday December 10th, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    Hi David,

    I’m not very sure about this part.
    Does my translation make sense?!
    What you want to say with this sentence is that “you don’t want Japan to go back to the old style”?

    >I can’t help thinking that the last thing Japan needs is to go back to the old way of doing things.
    私は日本が昔の(物事の)やり方に逆戻りすることだけはやってほしくない、と思わずにはいられません。

    Hi everyone,

    今週のエントリーの和訳です。

    Japanese Elections 2012

    On December 16th, Japanese people will go to the polls to choose a new government. Everyone knows that Japanese people tend not to be interested in politics, and I know that many of you do not like talking about this topic, but it might not be an exaggeration to say that Japan’s future is riding on the election this time.
    12月16日、日本のみなさんは次の政権を担う政党を選ぶ選挙の投票に行くことになります。日本人が政治に関心がないのは周知の事実ですし、私も皆さんの多くがこの話題について話すのが好きでないこともわかっています。でも、今回の選挙に日本の未来の命運がかかっている、と言っても過言じゃないかもしれませんよ。

    Actually, Japan’s general election has been receiving a lot of coverage in the Western media. Here is a list of the main points that people have been talking about.
    (今回の)日本の総選挙は欧米のメディアに広く取り上げられています。以下に欧米でささやかれている主な要点をリストアップします。

    1. The DPJ came to power promising change, but they have failed to deliver. They have also spent a lot of time fighting and arguing with each other instead of running the country. As a result, it is likely that the LDP will win this time.
    民主党は(前回の選挙で)改革を約束し政権を獲得したが実現にいたらなかった。また、国を運営するどころか民主党内の議員同士の揉め事や論争に多くの時間を費やしてしまった。その結果として今回は自民党が勝つことになりそうである。

    2. The leader of the LDP is an ex-prime minister who was generally seen as a failure the first time around.
    自民党の党首は元首相だが、彼は一般に「1回目に失敗した人間」として見られている。

    3. Japanese politics seems to be moving further and further to the right, with many nationalist politicians gaining popularity. This may have a big effect on Japan’s relations with its neighbours, particularly China and Korea.
    ナショナリストの政治家たちが人気を得るにつれ、日本の政治はどんどん右傾化していく一方のようだ。このことは隣国(特に中国と韓国)との対外関係に多大な影響を与えることになるかもしれない。

    People sometimes ask me whether I can vote in the elections. The answer is that I cannot. I have permanent residency in Japan, but I would only be able to vote if I changed my nationality and became Japanese. Of course, I would never do that because it would mean giving up my British passport.
    時々私に選挙権があるかどうか聞いてくる人がいますが、答えは「いいえ」です。永住権は持っていますが国籍を変えて日本人にならない限り投票できないのです。もちろんそれはイギリス国籍を放棄することを意味しますからそんなことは絶対にしません。

    To be honest, I have to admit that I do not usually pay much attention to Japanese politics either, but this time, I am quite concerned about the direction Japan will take if the LDP get back into power.
    正直言って、私も普段あまり日本の政治に注意を払っているわけではありません。が、今回は自民党が政権を奪還した場合に日本が向かう方向性に強い関心を持っています。

    Mr. Abe is saying that he is going to spend trillions of yen on construction projects in order to boost the economy. He might be right, but as we all know, Japan already has huge debts, and this may well make things worse. I can’t help thinking that the last thing Japan needs is to go back to the old way of doing things.
    安倍氏は景気回復のために公共事業費に3兆円を費やすと言っています。彼の言っていることは正しいかもしれませんが誰もが知っているように日本は既に莫大な借金を抱えていいますから、却って事態の悪化を招くことになるかもしれません。私は日本が昔の(物事の)やり方に逆戻りすることだけはやってほしくない、と思わずにはいられません。

    The other thing that worries me is that the LDP seem to be in favour of pushing ahead with the development of nuclear power. After the disaster at Fukushima, I find it hard to believe that any Japanese people would vote for a party who are pro-nuclear, but it seems that a lot of people are going to do just that.
    もう一つ心配なのは、自民党が原発の推進に賛成しているようである、という点です。私にはあの福島の原発事故の後に日本人が原発推進派の政党に投票するなんて信じがたいのですが、でも多くの日本人がそうしようとしているようです。

    Anyway, I would be very interested to hear what Japanese voters (that’s you, by the way!) think about the candidates and their policies. If you are not interested in the elections, I hope you will write a comment explaining why. If you are interested, please tell me what the most important factors will be for you when you decide who to vote for.
    とにかく、日本の有権者たち(あなたたちのことですよ、ちなみに!)が候補者や政策についてどのように考えているのか是非聞いてみたいです。選挙に興味のない人はなぜ興味がないのかコメントしてください。興味のある人は誰に投票するか決めるときに一番決め手になることは何か教えてください。

    Look forward to hearing your opinions.
    みなさんの意見を聞くのを楽しみにしています。



  3. Biwa on Tuesday December 11th, 2012 at 08:57 AM

    Hi YU,

    Thanks always for the translation!
    For the part you mentioned, I think your translation is fine.^^)b However, if you translate word for word, the word “need” might be put into like this: 私は,日本が昔のやり方に逆戻りすることだけは不要だ(するべきではない)、と思わずにいられません。It doesn’t make difference in the context, so I think yours is fine!

    Hi David,

    >Everyone knows that Japanese people tend not to be interested in politics,

    I agree, because most of my friends aren’t. I tried talking about the coming poll when we gathered, and no further conversation. I didn’t want to be a party pooper, so I just changed the topic. I’d like to know who or which party you would vote for if you could. I’m interested!



  4. YU on Tuesday December 11th, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Hi Biwa and everyone,

    > I don’t think Mr. Noda was a bad leader.

    I think so, too (except for his ideas of raising the consumption tax!).
    私もそう思います。

    > Moreover, I think it’s absolutely necessary for us to join the TPP talk.

    To be honest, I still don’t know much about the TPP issues, and I guess most Japanese people are the same as me. So, I don’t think it’s a very good idea to set it one of the important issues in the election.
    I know that Japan is behind other countries and needs to decide if we join the negotiation as soon as possible, though.
    正直言ってTPP問題についてまだあまりよく知りません。多分日本人の多くが私みたいによく知らないと思います。だからTPP問題を今回の選挙の重要争点の一つにするのはどうかな、と思います。
    日本は既に他国に遅れをとっていて早急に交渉参加の是非を決めなくてはならないのはわかっているんですが。

    > The other thing that worries me is that the LDP seem to be in favour of pushing ahead with the development of nuclear power.

    Mr.Ishihara(he is not LDP, though) is saying that if Japan abolished all nuclear power plants within 30 years as DPJ promised, electricity rates would rise by up to 20%, and all companies in Japan would go bankrupt because of that, and it would also mean that you will lose your job, and Japan will go under.
    石原氏(彼は自民党じゃないけど)はこんなことを言っています。日本がもし民主党が言うように30年後に原発を全廃したら電気料金が20%跳ね上がり、これによって日本の企業はほぼすべて倒産してします。これはあなたたちが職を失うということでもあり、日本が沈没する、ということです。

    Although I’m not pro-nuclear, I think he is not altogether wrong. I heard that Germany has been taking the policy abandoning nuclear power generation, but as a result, it has caused a steep hike in power rates, and they are now forced to amend their policies. So, I think Japan needs to think how to deal with those problems, too.
    私は原発推進派ではないですが(脱原発派です!)が、彼の主張はあながち全て間違いとも言えないと思います。ドイツではずっと脱原発路線をとってきましたが、その結果電気料金が急激に上がり、今政策の修正を余儀なくされている、と聞きました。なので日本もこういった問題にどう対処していくかも考えなくてはならないと思います。

    > please tell me what the most important factors will be for you when you decide who to vote for.

    In my case, economic measures, the nuclear power issues, countermeasures against the falling birth rate and the aging population, and the territorial problems will be more important factors than the TPP issues when I decide who to vote for.
    私の場合、TPP問題よりも景気対策、原発問題、少子高齢化対策、領土問題などの方がどの政党に投票するか決めるときの重要なポイントになります。

    However, I have to admit that I still can’t decide who to vote for because there are simply too many parties(candidates) and policies this time, and I find none of them very attractive. The only thing I’m sure about is that I will not vote for 日本維新の会 because the leader is Mr.Ishihara.
    でも正直言って今回は政党が乱立、政策もいっぱいありすぎてどの政党に投票するか決めかねています。どの政党にもそんなに魅力を感じません。ひとつだけ確かなのは日本維新の会には投票しない、ということです。石原氏が党首だから。



  5. Anne on Tuesday December 11th, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Hi YU,

    Thanks for your translation. Yours are amazing as always.
    >I can’t help thinking that the last thing Japan needs is to go back to the old way of doing things.
    私は日本が昔の(物事の)やり方に逆戻りすることだけはやってほしくない、と思わずにはいられません。

    As for your question, I agree with Biwa, and I think your translation is fine.
    ”the last thing is…”と言う文型,昔習いました。「。。。する最後のことは。。。だ。」
    「日本が昔の政治手法に戻ることだけは避けたい、と思わざるを得ません。」

    By the way, I might be wrong, but I understood the following part different way from yours.

    >Mr. Abe is saying that he is going to spend trillions of yen on construction projects…
    >安倍氏は景気回復のために公共事業費に3兆円を費やすと言っています
    –ここでのtrillions of は具体的な数字ではなくtrillions of で、「何兆もの、莫大な」の意味に使われると思います。
    三兆円の場合は、”three trillion yen”かな?–「。。莫大なお金を費やすといっています。」

    I’m going out now, so I’d like to share my thought later.

    Anne



  6. YU on Tuesday December 11th, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Hi Anne,

    Thank you for pointing out my mistake!
    I really have no idea why I translated “trillions of yen” as “3兆円”!!
    I suspect “tri” of “trillions” reminded me of the number “3”!!



  7. Biwa on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 08:23 AM

    Hi YU and everyone,

    I’ve also heard about Germany’s denuclearization try, and I think we have lots to learn from them, too. I agree with your opinion, YU. To tell the truth, I can’t find any specific plans how they’re going to abandon nuclear power in any of the parties (including the DPJ).
    I’m also worried about all the other issues you mentioned, but I can’t help thinking that we need money to realize those things. That’s why I hope joining the TPP talk and opening the country will activate the bad economy. I know there are lots of arguements both for and against the measure, but I think it will activate not only the flow of goods and resources but also people.(物や資源だけでなく、人材の行き来を活性化するのではないか、と思うのです。)I think that will be a good change for this aging society, too.

    Closing the country and spending trillions of yen on constructing projects is just like going back to the old days, and I don’t want to pass the burden onto future generations.

    However, it’s likely that the LDP will win the election, and I feel that there must be so many voters(perhaps not only the rice-farmers or the construction industry!) who gain lots of financial support by the LDP.



  8. YU on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    > That’s why I hope joining the TPP talk and opening the country will activate the bad economy. I know there are lots of arguements both for and against the measure, but I think it will activate not only the flow of goods and resources but also people.(物や資源だけでなく、人材の行き来を活性化するのではないか、と思うのです。)I think that will be a good change for this aging society, too.

    First of all, I’m not totally against joining the TPP negotiation, but there’re still lots of things that worry me so I’m just cautious about it.
    まず、TPP交渉参加に断固反対、というわけではありません。
    まだいろいろと心配なことがあるので慎重なだけです。

    Joining the TPP could not only affect Japanese primary industry, but it could also cause huge economic losses if you failed to choose the proper terms to improve Japan’s economy.
    TPPに参加するということは日本の第一次産業に害を及ぼす可能性があるだけでなく、日本の経済を好転させるのに適した条件の選択を誤ると逆に日本にとって甚大な不利益をもたらす可能性があるようです。

    Here is a list of the main problems in the TPP.

    1.ISDS条項(ISD条項)
    海外起業を保護するために内国民待遇が適用される。これにより当該企業・投資家が損失・不利益を被った場合、国内法を無視して世界銀行傘下の国際投資紛争解決センターに提訴することが可能。結果、日本政府や自治体は法外な賠償金を請求されるか、不都合な法律改正を迫られる可能性がある。

    2.ラチェット規定
    一度自由化・規制緩和された条件は、当該国の不都合・不利益に関わらず取り消すことができない。

    3.TPP離脱に対する訴訟リスク
    TPPのルール上、離脱はいつでも可能とされるが、実際上は海外企業からの莫大な損害賠償請求が予想されTPP離脱は極めて困難と考えられる。

    I agree with you that joining the TPP could activate Japan’s economy, but I find it hard to believe that Japan has already discussed “beneficial terms for Japan” well.
    BiwaのTPP参加は日本経済を活性化する、という意見には賛成です。が、まず交渉参加にあたって「日本にとって有益な自由、規制緩和条件を」日本国内でもう十分に話し合った、とはとても思えないです。

    This will demand further discussion. Once we have concluded the agreements, we can’t say “やっぱりや~めた!” so easily for the problems above listed.
    Also, Japan would be forced to compensate the primary industry workers for their losses if we entered the TPP.
    このことは十分な話し合いが必要だと思います。一旦協定を締結してしまうと上記にリストアップされたような理由でそう簡単に「やっぱりや~めた!」というわけには行かないようですから。それに日本は第一次産業従事者に対する補償問題にも直面することになるでしょう。

    As I mentioned, I still don’t know much about this issue, and I need to learn more and more about it.
    I don’t think opening the country is a bad idea, but we should remember that it can produce a big loss and victims, too.
    TPP問題についてはまだよく知らないのでもっと勉強しなくては。とにかく、鎖国状態を脱却するのは悪いアイデアではないと思うのですがそれに伴って多くの損失や犠牲者も出る、と思います。

    Anyway, what I want to say is that “Japan shouldn’t do things too hastily in the face of pressure from USA”.
    とにかく私が言いたいのはアメリカの圧力に押されて「日本は性急に事を決めるべきではない。勇み足にならないようによく考えるべき」ということです。



  9. Biwa on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 02:20 PM

    Hi YU and everyone,

    >Anyway, what I want to say is that “Japan shouldn’t do things too hastily in the face of pressure from USA”.

    I agree. There are other trade agreements like FTA (Free Trade Agreement), and the US and Korea seem to have had an agreement in 2007. It is said that these trade agreements have both economical and political sides, and the US-Korea FTA seems to have been concluded in a kind of hurried way in order to protect themselves from North Korea’s nuclear issues. However, the agreement seems to be much more profitable for the US, and Korea seems to be in big trouble. We really need to learn a lot from them, too!
    I think it’s important for us to build a strong relationship with the US, especially now when we have those territorial issues with neighboring countries, but it should not be an unfair relationship, indeed. However, I think we need to start talking, at least. (もちろん、日本にとって一方的に不利益になるような協定には反対ですが、初めから「断固反対!」ではなく、少なくとも話し合いはするべきだと思いません、みなさん?)



  10. David Barker on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 02:25 PM

    Hi YU,

    Thanks for doing the translation.

    Hi Biwa,

    I suppose that if I could vote, I would vote for the DPJ. I have more respect for Noda than any of the others because he seems to be focused on what is good for Japan rather than what is good for himself and his party.

    I was talking to some students about the election today, and none of them knew anything at all about it. They all said they have no idea who their parents will vote for. As I have said many times, I think this is part of a long-standing government strategy to keep the population meek and uninterested through the education system. That allows these old men to carry on making themselves richer and richer. If the LDP win the election and decide to start funding construction projects again, they will have to borrow the money to do that. Of course, they will not be borrowing money in their own name, but rather in the name of “the country.” The men who implement the plan will get rich, as will the bosses of the construction companies who pay them. The losers will be the current generation of young people who will have to pay for this with much higher taxes and much lower welfare spending in the future. It’s very sad to see, and even sadder because the young people who are being robbed cannot see what is happening to their future.



  11. Biwa on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 02:57 PM

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your comment.
    I was going to ask what your students think about the election, because I didn’t want to believe that the young people really have no interest in politics as the media often says. I’m not sure if my family is odd or not, but we all talk a lot about these things. Especially, my elder son said the other day that his teacher said he’s not going to vote for the LDP because it might mean that his students will have to go to war in the future. He(my son) got very interested in the election from then, and asks me lots of questions. As you say, there must be something wrong with the current education system, and also the with the adults around them! I don’t understand why.



  12. Biwa on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 03:01 PM

    Sorry, “also with the adults around them” should be correct.



  13. YU on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 04:20 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    > However, the agreement seems to be much more profitable for the US, and Korea seems to be in big trouble. We really need to learn a lot from them, too!

    Indeed! I was wondering why Korea doesn’t enter the TPP, but it seems that because Korea’s economy has been already under the control of the USA since Korea’s financial crisis of 1997-98, so the US doesn’t need to ask Korea to join the TPP to open their market. I also didn’t know that so many Korean large companies and banks are actually owned by the foreign capitals of the US and other countries.
    本当にそうですね。なぜ韓国がTPPに参加表明しないのか不思議でしたが韓国経済は1997-98年の韓国の金融危機後に実質上既にアメリカの支配下になってしまっていてアメリカとしては韓国をTPPに参加させて市場開放を迫る必要がないみたいですね。ほとんどの韓国の名だたる大企業や銀行が外資系になってしまっていることも知りませんでした。

    http://www.nice.or.jp/archives/6441

    >(もちろん、日本にとって一方的に不利益になるような協定には反対ですが、初めから「断固反対!」ではなく、少なくとも話し合いはするべきだと思いません、みなさん?)

    I’d been thinking that way, too, but apparently Japan has already entered into the “prior” negotiations long time ago. And “beginning official TPP negotiations” means that Japan already accepted lots of unprofitable terms before.
    私もずっとそういう風に考えてました。でも日本はTPPの”事前”交渉にはずっと前から参加していて、”公式な”TPP交渉への参加表明=日本は既に数々の悪条件を飲んだ、という意味のようです。

    I also heard that once you have joined the “official” TPP negotiations, you can’t leave it so easily.

    そして一回その”公式な”交渉に参加してしまうとなかなか途中棄権はできないと聞いたことがあります。というかそれはほぼ不可能、と聞きました。



  14. YU on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 05:14 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    > his teacher said he’s not going to vote for the LDP because it might mean that his students will have to go to war in the future.

    I can’t remember who it was, but a politician said on TV before, “Do you really think Japanese young people today go to war? They like Japan as long as it’s safe and peaceful, but they are not so strong or brave that they can fight and die for their country.” He might be right.

    Mr. Abe should go to war the first and fight for his “beautiful Japan”.



  15. Biwa on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 09:20 PM

    Hi YU,

    Thanks for the link. I didn’t know that the major companies in Korea were owned by foreign capitals, either. (I’m not sure if I can use “major” like this.)

    >And “beginning official TPP negotiations” means that Japan already accepted lots of unprofitable terms before.

    I’m not really sure about this. I think Japan hasn’t joined the talk yet because the following article (published from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) says that the number of the current participating countries are 11, and Japan doesn’t seem to be included so far.
    http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/tpp/index.html

    Here’s another article that says Japan hasn’t decided yet if they’re going to join the talk.
    http://astand.asahi.com/magazine/wrbusiness/2012101500005.html

    >Mr. Abe should go to war the first and fight for his “beautiful Japan”.

    I totally agree!, but I guess he would just give up fighting within a month due to “stress”.



  16. Biwa on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 09:36 PM

    Hi YU,

    The word “capital” was an uncountable noun, so I think we should have said “foreign capital”!

    One more, is “the LDP” or any other names of a group singular or plural?
    David said “the LDP seem to be in favor of” in his entry, but I found “If the LDP wins power” in Japantoday. I’m not sure, but perhaps both are okay.



  17. YU on Wednesday December 12th, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    > I’m not really sure about this. I think Japan hasn’t joined the talk yet

    As I wrote, Japan has already started the “PRIOR” negotiations(事前交渉/協議) before joining the OFFICIAL talk.
    I know Japan hasn’t joined the “OFFICIAL” talk yet.
    もちろん日本がTPP交渉に正式参加表明していないのはわかっています。でないとなんで今それが衆議院選の争点になるのですか?
    コメントに書きましたが、私が言っているのは”日本はかなり前から「正式交渉」の前段階の「事前協議」を始めている”、ということです。

     
    日本政府は、環太平洋連携協定(TPP)交渉参加に向けた事前協議を、米国やオーストラリアなど9カ国との間で個別に本格化させる。
    交渉参加には9カ国全ての同意が必要で、日本の参加決定は今年半ば以降になる見込み。
     
    TPP交渉を主導する米国は、日本の参加に関する国内での意見公募を1月13日まで実施し、日本に解決を求める項目を整理。この中には 米側の長年の懸案である牛肉と保険、自動車の3分野が含まれるのは確実とみられている。

    米政府が外国との通商交渉に入るには、90日前までに議会に通知する必要がある。
    日本が9カ国との事前協議をクリアし、交渉参加が決まるのは早くても6月前後になりそうだ。

    [時事通信社]
    2012年1月4日16時6分

    As I wrote, it seems that Japan will have to accept many unprofitable terms(but profitable for the US!) before joining the OFFICIAL TPP talk. I heard that the US is forcing Japan to abolish light cars(軽自動車).



  18. Anne on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I’ve been supported for DPJ for many years. To be honest,I haven’t decided which party or candidate I should vote for this time yet. The candidate I’ve been supporting for moved to another party, and I’m not 100% sure if I can believe in its party.

    There are lots of small parties(or newly born parties)called “the third force” and it’s quite confusing to remember each name, isn’t it? Also, it’s very difficult to figure out who belongs to which party.
    Some of the parties seem to get together just for the election, and I don’t think I can believe in them. Having said that, I guess many voters who have fed up with the two biggest parties would vote for them.

    >I find it hard to believe that any Japanese people would vote for a party who are pro-nuclear
    —I understand what you mean and agree with you, but I wonder if it’s possible to get through without the nuclear power. Some party just shouts, “No nuclear power!” but doesn’t show alternatives or other plans.

    I’m wondering why DPJ have failed to deliver their plans. Was it because they were inexperienced besides failing to focus on running the country?

    good night,

    Anne



  19. Anne on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    sorry, it’s me again.
    “I’m not 100% sure if I can believe in its party.” should be “I’m not 100% sure if I can believe in its party or not.”



  20. Fumie on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 05:57 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    Although I am not indifferent to politics, I can’t decide which party and which candidate I should vote for this time. At the last time election, I really hoped DPJ would change Japan in the right direction because they pledged such a promising manifest and I thought they would really revise long-last bad old system but they failed to deliver them. And I lost confidence with them. I don’t have any political parties or politicians who I can believe in and want to lead Japan.
    >The leader of the LDP is an ex-prime minister who was generally seen as a failure the first time around.
    – He resigned PM because of his disease so I don’t think we should blame him for that.
    私は政治に無関心ではないのですが、今回の選挙でどの政党に投票するかまだ決めれません。前回、民衆党がとても希望を持たすようなマニフェストを掲げて臨んだときは、これで長く続いてきた悪いシステムを変えてくれるかもしれないと期待しました。でも結果は口先だけの部分もありました。だから民主党に対しては信頼できません。
    前、自民党総裁が首相職を途中で投げ出したのは健康問題のためだから、そのことで彼を責めることはできないと思います。

    Fumie



  21. Biwa on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 08:17 AM

    Hi YU,

    I’m afraid your sentences below made me think that way. That’s why I wasn’t really sure what you were talking about.

    >And “beginning official TPP negotiations” means that Japan already accepted lots of unprofitable terms before.
    >”公式な”TPP交渉への参加表明=

    >でないとなんで今それが衆議院選の争点になるのですか?
    That’s exactly what I thought, too.

    Anyway, there seems to be many other pending negotiations between Japan and other countries (Japan-Australia EPA, Japan-Canada EPA, etc). If we keep pending decisions there, it’s likely that it will affect the negotiations for the TPP talk, and we might have to accept many unprofitable terms not only with the US but also with many other countries. 日本は他の国々とも個別にTPP以外の経済連携の交渉をしていて、それらが影響し合っていると思います。(もちろん熟考しなければいけませんが)ある程度、他の国々と決断のタイミングを合わせなければ、それこそ一方的に不利な条件を飲むことになるか、悪ければ経済連携の中にすら入れなくなるのでは、と思います。(以下、日経新聞の記事よりの抜粋です。)⇒経済連携はひとつの枠組みで交渉が進むと他の交渉も前進します。貿易自由化の果実の確保で自国が他国より遅れるのは得策でないとの判断が働くからです。

    For the 軽自動車, I’ve heard that the US wants to abolish the non-tarrif-barrier(非関税障壁) because they don’t make 軽自動車. I don’t think that Japan will accept “abolishing 軽自動車”, but as long as it is a “negotiation”, there must be some strategy or tactics for the decisions. 交渉が「駆け引き」である以上、何か戦略・戦術があっての上での決断だと思います。



  22. amo on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 08:24 AM

    Hi David,

    Sorry but I am tied up with work. We has changed some system at the beginning of this month. We expected that we would have some troubles but they are much worse that I have imagined:( So I have to think how to fix them. Anyway, I am already tired when I get home this week, and I don’t have the energy to write a comment at night.

    amo



  23. YU on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 09:20 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    I still wonder why you skipped to read “prior negotiations” in my sentence and Japanese translation, but I’m very sorry for my poor English.

    >(もちろん熟考しなければいけませんが)ある程度、他の国々と決断のタイミングを合わせなければ、それこそ一方的に不利な条件を飲むことになるか、悪ければ経済連携の中にすら入れなくなるのでは、と思います。(以下、日経新聞の記事よりの抜粋です。)⇒経済連携はひとつの枠組みで交渉が進むと他の交渉も前進します。貿易自由化の果実の確保で自国が他国より遅れるのは得策でないとの判断が働くからです。

    I know exactly what you mean and I think you’re right. However, I don’t think it’s fair that the US doesn’t allow other countries to join the the TPP unless they accept unprofitable terms. They’re very bossy as usual.

    EUを例にとりますが経済連携してすべての国に果実がみのる、とは限りません。逆にEUは一部の加盟国の経済破綻によって全加盟国が負担を負うハメになってしまっています。得策だったかどうかは入ったあとにしか判断できないと思います。でも不明だから経済連携に入るべきでない、とは言っていません。

    それとどうもBiwaは私がTPP反対という前提でコメントしている気がしますが、前にも書きましたが私はTPPに反対していませんよ。ただ「また自国内の議論(TPP例外条件に関する議論)も熟さないまま参加して、アメリカに屈するのか(交渉もズルズルといいなり)」と思っているだけです。そこを「勇み足にならないように」と言っているのです。



  24. Biwa on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 09:56 AM

    Hi YU,

    Maybe I had trouble understanding both English and Japanese. ひょっとしてひょっとすると、以下の文章は「仮定」の意味だったのでしょうか?私はてっきり「飲んだ」という言葉から「過去」の話と受け取りました。だから、「まだ参加表明していないのになー」と思ったのでした。If so, sorry for that.

    >”公式な”TPP交渉への参加表明=日本は既に数々の悪条件を飲んだ、という意味のようです。

    I know you’re not against the TPP, and to tell the truth, I want to talk about other things instead of the TPP.^^)b



  25. YU on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Hi Anne,

    >There are lots of small parties(or newly born parties)called “the third force” and it’s quite confusing to remember each name, isn’t it? Also, it’s very difficult to figure out who belongs to which party.

    Indeed!
    There’re only some long-standing parties, but the others are all quite new.

    >Some of the parties seem to get together just for the election, and I don’t think I can believe in them. Having said that, I guess many voters who have fed up with the two biggest parties would vote for them.

    Besides, some parties are planing to unite with other parties after seeing the results of the election. That’s very tricky!

    Hi Fumie,

    >The leader of the LDP is an ex-prime minister who was generally seen as a failure the first time around.
    – He resigned PM because of his disease so I don’t think we should blame him for that.

    I don’t think people blame him for that.
    When he resigned, his cabinet support rate was only around 30%, so most Japanese were already thinking that he was a failure at the time.
    However, I wonder why the LDP chose him as their leader again, though he failed last time. I think people from other countries are wondering about this point. I doubt that he will give up his post again if his support rate falls in the future! (もし彼がまた総理大臣になったら)

    I’ve started thinking of voting for DPJ.
    As Biwa says, I don’t think Mr.Noda is a bad leader. The last two PMs before him(Mr.Hatoyama and Mr.Kan) were terrible, though.
    I want to give him a little more time to run this country.



  26. Biwa on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Hi David,

    >I think this is part of a long-standing government strategy to keep the population meek and uninterested through the education system.

    By the way, this part made me think, and I thought that not only the young people but also the adults around me(30~50 years old, maybe?) are included and received damage by this strategy.
    I asked my husband if he talks about the poll with his friends at work, and he said he almost never does. He also said that it’s a kind of taboo and perhaps it’s the same to the teachers at school. So I think it’s really difficult for the young generation to learn/think about polls in Japan, and I’d like to know how things go on in the UK. Do you ask your friends which candidate or party you support often?



  27. David Barker on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Hi YU and Biwa,

    It’s actually nice to see you discussing the TPP. Even though it is a really important issue for the country, I would guess that most Japanese people don’t know anything about it.

    Regarding the education system, I think the problem is an over-emphasis on preserving “wa,” which means that everyone avoids any topic that might be seen as controversial. I think this is also one of the main causes of bullying. (Don’t complain; gaman suru, etc.) I understand that this is an important part of Japanese culture, but these controversial problems do not go away just because people don’t talk about them, and modern-day Japan is facing a huge number of very serious problems to which there is no easy answer. In Britain and the US (and definitely in Europe), I think that most people are much more knowledgeable about politics. It is one of the most common topics of conversation, and people talk about it all the time.

    I was talking to a Spanish 留学生 yesterday, and he said he couldn’t believe that Japan had been governed by just one political party for more than 50 years. If Japanese people do not take an interest in politics, I’m afraid these old men will just go on feathering their own nests.

    By the way, I think the issue of “kei” cars has more to do with what are called “Non-tarriff trade barriers.” Japan has lots of these barriers that make it more difficult for people to buy foreign cars. For example, Japan has banned most diesel cars for the simple reason that European manufacturers are much better at making them. In Europe, no one would buy a big car like a Land Cruiser that had a gasoline engine. Diesel versions of these cars are really popular, but they are not allowed to be registered in Japan. This is nothing to do with “dirty” engines, as modern diesels are very clean. Another example is the number registration system. If my understanding is correct, all foreign cars have to have a “3” number regardless of their engine size, which means they pay more tax. Basically, the issue is that Japan wants to have fair competition for its car makers in foreign markets, but it is not willing to give the same opportunities to other manufacturers who want to sell their cars in Japan. I think the reason many are opposed to the TPP is that it will open Japan up to foreign competition. This might not be good for Japanese companies, but it would be great for Japanese consumers.



  28. YU on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    Sorry for my bad Japanese.
    Maybe I should have written ;

    日本は既に事前協議で数々の悪条件を飲んだ => 公式な”TPP交渉への参加表明という流れのようです。

    ほとんどの日本人は日本はTPPの交渉の場に全く踏み入っていないと思っていて、事前協議でもうかなり話が詰められているなんて知らないと思ったのでこういう文を書きました。TPPの公式な参加表明はまだですが公式参加表明する時点ではもう既に粗方の交渉は終了している、と言いたかったのです。(結構どんな交渉もこのパターンですよね)あとは公式な交渉の場でどれだけ日本が規制緩和の例外条件を主張できるか、ですがこれがまだまだ日本国内でまとまっていない、と思っています。経済界と政界で意見がバラバラですから。

    I’m going to my son’s kindergarten. He has a ならし保育 lesson. I spent about 20000yen for this ならし保育(15 lessons altogether), but now I feel that he actually doesn’t need it.
    なんか親がいなくても先生や友達と楽しくやっているようなので参加しなくても良かったかも、と思う今日このごろです。



  29. YU on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 02:20 PM

    Hi David,

    > I think the reason many are opposed to the TPP is that it will open Japan up to foreign competition. This might not be good for Japanese companies, but it would be great for Japanese consumers.

    I also think it would be great for us if things got cheeper because of the competition. However, I wonder if it also could cause a further deflation in Japan because Japanese companies will have to make their products cheeper and cheeper if cheep foreign products are imported.

    Anyway, it’s very interesting that important issues like the TPP is just rapidly progressing by some politicians and 経団連, out of the touch with voters.



  30. Biwa on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 04:13 PM

    Hi David,

    I agree with your idea about “wa”. I think it can also be said as “fear of being the odd one”.
    A little thing I notice when I go to buy clothes, the salesgirl often says “This is one of our best-selling, and actually the customer before you has just bought it!” I guess, in other countries, she would say other things like “This design is nice, but the other goes better with your hairstyle.” or whatever.
    I think this difference appears from early childhood because I see lots of English or American children’s books with titles like “It’s okay to be different”, ” The one and only special me”, “I like me!” and so on. I hardly see these titles in Japanese ones. Perhaps we have to start from there to make people talk about controversial problems!

    Hi YU,

    Your son’s kindergarten(future!) sounds like a very hospitable one. My sons didn’t have any 慣らし保育.



  31. Kyon on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 06:31 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    ・・・・but it might not be an exaggeration to say that Japan’s future is riding on the election this time.
    -I strongly agree with you. I asked my family members and friends to definitely go to the poll station.

    Hi Fumie,
    At the last time election, I really hoped DPJ would change Japan in the right direction because they pledged such a promising manifest and I thought they would really revise long-last bad old system but they failed to deliver them. And I lost confidence with them.

    -I totally agree with you.
    You also said,” Mr.Abe resigned PM because of his disease so I don’t think we should blame him for that.”
    There are still many people(even politicians )who jokingly say Mr. Abe resigned because of his stomach pain or something. His disease is ulcerative colitis(潰瘍性大腸炎)and it is designated as an intractable disease(特定疾患) and many people are suffering from this disease now . These impolite and nonsense remarks must hurt those patients, too.

    I think the main issues for the election this time are the economic measures and foreign policy. I support the LDP led by Mr. Abe from three reasons.

    ①Economic measures: Just after Mr. Abe mentioned inflation targeting policy, the yen became weak(that’s good for exporting companies) and the stock market reacted strongly and the shares are on the rise. The LDP set the easy inflation target to 2 % and the Central Bank of Japan(日銀) will keep printing yen until reaching the target. This easy monetary policy will help to improve the present bad economy.

    ②The Defense army: The LDP plans to revise only the 2nd clause of the article 9, leaving the 1st clause untouched and form the Defense army(国防軍). Many criticize this policy, however, I don’t understand what is wrong with this. The Japanese government has had double standard. To foreign countries, we have the army, but to the Japanese people, we have only the self-defense forces. It is unfair and sorry for the self-defense forces(自衛隊)who protect the country for their lives. It is time to form the Defense army to protect Japan from the threat from special foreign countries.

    If you have time, please watch this video in which Deputy Defense minister Akihisa Nagashima(現防衛副大臣) and Yoshiko Sakurai talked of China’s “近海防衛戦略=Coastal Sea Protective Strategy” which was made by a naval admiral劉華清 in early 1980’s . If you watch this, you will understand how terrifying China is. Please watch
    the scene around 28.25 minutes past from the start. → http://youtu.be/J9TQ6_-keRs.

    ③Japanese abductees issues: Mr. Abe and Mr. Matsubara of the DPJ are the only politicians that abductees’ families (横田さん、有本さん達) trust. In 2004, when 5 abductees temporarily came back to Japan from North Korea, they were scheduled to go back to North Korea . However, Mr. Koizumi and Mr. Abe refused to return them to North Korea again. Abductees’ families also came to Japan to live in Japan. I want Mr. Abe to become the leader of Japan to settle this issue.

    Kyon



  32. kattie on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 07:21 PM

    Hi everyone,

    It’s really interesting for me to read your all your comments. I have always been very interested in UK politics but I realise my knowledge of Japanese politics is pitiful but thanks to all of you, I am trying to rectify this! Can you tell me what age people are allowed to vote (It’s 18 in the UK), what percentage of the population generally vote and something about your voting system i.e. Do you have proportional representation or ‘first past the post’?

    Young people in the UK are increasingly apathetic and unknowledgeable about politics and it’s very worrying – even a lot of older people are increasingly bored by it and are not bothering to vote, possibly because people think all politicians are the same and are only out for themselves.

    Last year the new government raised student fees by two- thirds, even though one of the parties in the coalition government had specifically said in its manifesto that it would be looking to reduce/abolish student loans. This resulted in student marches and demonstrations and it was good to see that the students weren’t simply accepting this however since then, the changes have been implemented and there’s been no further unrest.

    Traditionally people in the UK have talked about politics in the workplace, in the pub, at home and you might even have a casual chat about it with a stranger on a train or a taxi driver! When I was at school we used to have mock elections and this was probably what got me first interested in the wider world.
    I discuss political issues with a lot of my friends and I know how most of them vote.

    It’s interesting that Japanese people don’t like to be the odd one out. I understand that as children we naturally don’t want to be the odd ball but as people get older and more confident this can change. Actually I think a lot of people in the UK want to stand out from the crowd – so if you went into a trendy clothes shop they would be more likely to say something like ‘We are the only place to stock this item, you won’t see anyone else wearing it’- I think we revel in the quirky, so it’s quite different!

    I’m writing this on my Blackberry (mobile) and it’s hard to see the screen so I’ll go now.

    Kattie



  33. YU on Thursday December 13th, 2012 at 08:30 PM

    Hi Kyon,

    Long time no see!

    > There are still many people(even politicians )who jokingly say Mr. Abe resigned because of his stomach pain or something. His disease is ulcerative colitis(潰瘍性大腸炎)and it is designated as an intractable disease(特定疾患) and many people are suffering from this disease now . These impolite and nonsense remarks must hurt those patients, too.

    I see.
    I feel sorry for those patients, but I wonder a person who has health problems like him should become our leader. I don’t think the Prime Minister is that an easy job, it’s a very very hard job. Though he emphasized that he found a good medicine for his disease when he run for the election of the LDP leader, it doesn’t mean that he recovered completely.



  34. Fumie on Friday December 14th, 2012 at 09:21 AM

    Hi Kyon,

    Thank you for explaining political issues. I didn’t know some of them. I watched the video you putted and thought it’s terrifying.

    Hi Kattie,

    >It’s interesting that Japanese people don’t like to be the odd one out.
    Some young people imitate fashion, makeup and hairstyle of popular idols so they all look same to me.

    Fumie



  35. Biwa on Friday December 14th, 2012 at 01:42 PM

    Hi Kattie,

    Thanks for your comment. It sounds like, in Britain, talking about politics is just as casual as talking about movie stars or soccer players!, and I really wish it were like that here, too. This morning, I was with my friends and one of the candidates was making a campaign speech in front of the station. Naturally, we started talking about the election, but again, everyone said “I haven’t decided yet”. I know you don’t need to spread around who you’re going to vote for, but I feel it’s more like a kind of secret to keep for many people. Why do they have to keep it secret?

    Anyway, it’s the same that young peolple are getting less interested in politics, and it should make a lot of difference in the results if they all voted. In Japan, we can vote from 20, and is said that 60~65% of the people vote. However, until 3 years ago, the LDP governed the country for nearly 60 years, and during those times, only 40~50% voted. It means that a long-lasting government takes away people’s interest, too.
    As for the voting system, we have both proportional representation and “first past the post” systems at the same time. (I don’t know how you call this.) The coming election is for the Lower House, and it has 480 Diet members! Don’t you think this is too many? This is one of the questions that has come up for discussion. Anyway, 30 are chosen from the “first past the post” system, and 180 from the P.R. system.

    By the way, “revel in the quirky” was new to me!
    I notice that whenever I go to other countries, when I see movies and even fashion magazines! This is just my opinion and I know there are exceptions, but when I see women’s fashion and make-ups, I can tell they try to make their distinction stand out. I think, in Japan many people will be careful “not” to make their blemishes (is this an appropriate word?) stand out. (I’m not that careful, though!) It’s really interesting for me to see those differences.



  36. Anne on Friday December 14th, 2012 at 01:43 PM

    corrections:
    >I should have put “the” before “DPJ.”
    >voters who have fed up with—voters who have been fed up with

    >Hi Fumie and Kyon,
    I agree with both of you, and Mr. Abe should have the chance to work for Japan again. Anyway, I think he should have explained his disease(or situation) more clearly when he resigned.

    *About the article 9
    You can read what the LDP are saying concerning the article and other issues from the following site:
    http://www.jimin.jp/policy/pamphlet/pdf/kenpou_qa.pdf

    I don’t think this revise causes children to go to war.

    Hi David,
    >Japanese people tend not to be interested in politics.
    People around me might be a bit different… I always talk about politics or other issues with my husband and my friends. It’s not a quarrel but a discussion!

    Hi kattie,
    >what age people are allowed to vote (It’s 18 in the UK)—It’s 20 in Japan. Sorry, I don’t have time to answer other questions now.

    It’s difficult for people to agree with all the issues or points that are delivered from each party and the differences between parties could be sometimes small,right? I guess the point is what you are most interested in.

    Sorry, I have to go now so I’d like to share my thoughts later.

    Anne



  37. Biwa on Friday December 14th, 2012 at 01:46 PM

    Sorry, I made a mistake!
    “300 are chosen from the “first past the post”



  38. YU on Friday December 14th, 2012 at 03:17 PM

    Hi Anne,

    > Anyway, I think he should have explained his disease(or situation) more clearly when he resigned.

    I’m afraid generally speaking, I don’t think politicians or company leaders disclose their bad health conditions themselves because if they did, they would have to resign the post or retire.
    ふつう政治家や企業のトップ達はわざわざ自分の病気を事細かく披露しないと思います。そんなことしたら辞職か引退に追い込まれると私は思いますけど。

    Health problems could ruin their career.
    要職に就く人にとって健康不安は命取りだと思います。