March 11th, 2011 – The Day Japan’s Axis Shifted

Many commentators overseas and specialists on Japan have talked about how the March 11th Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami might be counted as major events along with the 1868 Meiji Restoration and the 1945 Japanese Defeat of World War 2. As a student of history, I’ve been fascinated by these events that forever shifted the path of history.

But frankly, I really wished I did not have to live through and watch this event unfold, real time right in front of me on live TV.

First of all, I should say that I am doing OK here in Tokyo. My house was shaken up a lot, and it took me a while to clear the books and other items that covered the floor. Immediately after the earthquake, a sizable project was dumped on my lap, and it took me a good part of the week to take care of it. I still have parts of my house that are a mess.

But my personal discomforts are nothing compared to the tragedy that continues on just to my north. While the Western press seems to be transfixed by the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Reactor troubles, I believe the true magnitude of this event lies elsewhere. The death toll is fast approaching 10,000 and with over 16,000 people still missing, the figure will most certainly rise much higher. Then there are the quarter of a million people have been made homeless. Many are old and their towns are completely ruined. There is a good chance that numerous cities along the coast will completely disappear.

Regarding free speech issues, the outlook ahead is impossible to predict.

Previously, there was strong expectation that debate over the last December’s revision of the Tokyo Healthy Youth Development Ordinance would intensify with the Anime Contents Expo competing against Tokyo Anime Fair, but both events have been cancelled. The shortage of electricity has been cited as the pressing practical reason, but the issues surrounding the Fukushima reactors most likely also play a role.

Because of the scale of the disaster that has struck Japan, numerous municipal legislative bodies and pundits have called for the 2011 unified regional elections to be postponed, not only for the areas directly impacted by the calamities, but for the entire nation. Part of this is because the shortage of electricity in the Kanto region is expected to have major impact on not only the elections on April 10th and 24th, but also on the campaign activities of the candidates. When everybody’s attention is placed on what’s going on in the Tōhoku region and a somber mood taking hold the population that compelling numerous joyous occasions to be cancelled (one Tokyo’s summer fireworks display has already been called off), an election under such circumstances will usually favor the incumbent.

The reason why I bring up the 2011 unified regional elections is because the man who most vocally advocated for the passage of Bill 156, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, has decided he will run for a 4th term after all.

The politics regarding his bid is very complicated, so I’ll skip it for now, but Mr. Ishihara’s chances for re-election may not be as secure as it was once thought. You can expect many people to be talking about Mr. Ishihara’s caustic comments regarding the tsunami and minorities as the election campaign goes into full swing, and with one particular candidate running against Ishihara, former Mizaki Prefecture governor Higashikokubaru, this election might be actually become a lot more competitive than once thought.

And, by the way, while Mr. Higashikokubaru won’t commit on rescinding Bill 156, he is rather critical on increasing regulation of anime and manga.

On a personal note, I’m very sorry for not being able to write more often. I’ll try my best but I have numerous projects lined up right in front of me, so it could get difficult.

Thank you for all you supportive words and please consider giving to the American Red Cross or other charities that can directly support people in need.

Stay safe and keep faith.

This entry was posted in censorship, everyday life, news, nonexistent youth, public morality and media. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to March 11th, 2011 – The Day Japan’s Axis Shifted

  1. Mike Craig says:

    Is Mr. Higashikokubaru moderate-right, hardline-right or in-between?

  2. Mike Craig says:

    I’ve been following the “Scrap the amended Tokyo Youth Ordinance” petition on the site and it has been extended to June and the number of signatures has now reached near 4,000!

  3. Nando says:

    Did Ishihara announce his re-election bid before or after the earthquake?

    • dankanemitsu says:

      It was after the earthquake. But it appears that he decided to run because Mr. Ishihara was afraid the person he wanted to succeed himself might not win. Polls indicated Mr. Matsuzawa (former Kanagawa Pref. governor) was not doing well.

  4. Cryssoberyl says:

    Good to hear from you Dan. Glad you’re alright, and we appreciate your comments. As someone who lives on the U.S. gulf coast, itself a disaster-prone coastal area (hurricanes), I can share a little bit of the feeling, but only a very little. The fact of whole towns simply ceasing to exist is something beyond our experience here. In that situation, what would we do? Where would we go? How could anyone possibly recover from that? There are no answers to these questions.

    With regard to the Western focus on the nuclear situation, I initially felt the same way, but I’ve since heard a number of accounts that by contrast, the Japanese citizenry trust such outside sources more than their own local media to give them the real facts. It’s already known that both the government and the media have been attempting to downplay the cascading series of reactor problems, and the Japanese public are not unaware of this. So in this sense, the Western media fixation on that aspect could be serving as a helpful counterpoint.

    Finally, as someone who fully expected a) the “free speech issue” to be completely forgotten in the face of this, and b) Ishihara to slide effortlessly back into office (especially with the aforementioned “rally ’round the incumbent” disaster effect), dare I say that your words bring me something like “hope”? Obviously this is now a minuscule concern in the grand scheme, but I think I won’t be contradicted if I say that in light of Ishihara’s comments on the disaster, I really do not think he is a person who can possibly be helpful to Japan in any capacity, large or small.

    Unfortunately, there are no words remaining to describe him now. English has failed me. What’s needed is a word that expresses a complete negative void of intelligence and constructive ideas….a word that conjures the image of a black hole of sapient thought. Concepts and ideas might enter this hole from outside, but they will simply vanish never be seen again, and no answering signal will ever emerge from within.

    The only real way left to remark on him is to do so recursively, and state that he has set precedents of Ishihara-ism never seen before even in him.

    • David says:

      Really, I’m not sure Ishihara is as unusual as you’re making him out to be. Yes, he’s a jerk and a biggot. Yes, his comments on the disaster illustrate this. We here in America have had people just as bad, though, saddly. Fortunately, once they go as far overboard as Ishihara has gone, they usually get caught and rejected by most of the voter base. I doubt it shall be different in Japan.

      As for the free speech thing, yeah, it’s a miniscule concern, but completely forgetting the small things in light of the big things is often a poor idea. It is ideal, if difficult, to give the major calamity that is the Earthquake/Tsunami the attention it deserves, but still keep “half an eye” (if you’ll pardon my need to use a bizarre expression here) on the free-speach issue.

      [I suppose the same thing can be said about the nuclear meltdown. I still strongly feel that the Western media is overdoing the focus on that (and also focusing on it WRONG), but… I wouldn’t exactly want us to completely ignore it, either…]

  5. Sange says:

    Don’t be sorry for not posting more often. While it is absolutely great to be able to read your posts, please don’t worry about it. It was a great present to have this post, even after all this horrible catastrophe that afflicted Japan.

    I never posted here before, but I just wanted to say that.

    Keep strong and good luck to you and all Japanese people on recovering from this tragedy.

  6. drmchsr0 says:

    Irony being, Ishihara is part of the LDP old guard. And the LDP is still hindering DPJ efforts at centralizing government, at least for the duration of the disaster and subsequent cleanup.

    Also, I wonder how Ishihara can get re-elected, after he ran his mouth off in the wake of the disaster and all. Perhaps he’ll just hide from public view while he bribes people to vote for him? (LOL)

    There’s also something regarding the legality of Bill 156 or something.

  7. Ifightformybeliefs says:

    yay, great. *sarcasm* another retard who wants to increase regulations on anime and manga. *sigh* another jackass who blames social problems on anime and manga, and is critical on increasing their regulations.

    • Nobody says:

      You seem to be unaware that to be “critical on” something means that you do not support that something. So, in this case, Mr. Higashikokubaru does not support increasing regulation of anime and manga.

      • Ifightformybeliefs says:

        hold up dude. you mean to say that, this guy whom i think wants to increase regulations are actually against increasing those regulations? then in that case, I amend my earlier statement and I do hope he’s not the kind of politician to blame crime and social problems on entertainment.

  8. Mike Craig says:

    Even if Ishihara were to be voted out today (hopefully), we’ve just got another “self-restraint” problem:

    Read these: (it’s in japanese.)

    If you not carzy about SanCom, ignore the second one.

    • Nobody says:

      I wonder if they’re trying to pull something like the rape game “ban” that (didn’t) occur a couple years back.

      ie. Main publishing group refrains from loli eromanga. Affected publishers move to a different publishing group, start their own, or just keep publishing without the blessing of the group. That’s what the rape game publishers have done – they’re still available.

      I mean, it’s not hard to find eromanga without the “seinen mark” which is what this publishing group controls. Clearly there are some publishers who don’t bother already. And they needn’t worry too much about retailers not accepting them – most of the places that sell loli eromanga (like Tora no Ana), clearly don’t care.

      It would be a very Japanese “solution”, if it gets the politicians off their backs.

  9. bakemonogatari says:

    Hi every one. Morning, Mr. Dan…. Good to hear u back.

    Sorry if i’m too narrow-minded, but i don’t think Mr. Higashikokubaru is the only one oppose that shitting regulation thing. And with the way it is now in Tokyo, I think mr. ishihara better keep his mouth shut, if he is to run for a 4th term. And, as far as I know, I don’t see anyone show any sigh of “restraint” anything, yet. Many of recently shows have many kind of fanservices, I believe, just like always.

  10. Nate says:

    Sadly the elections weren’t postponed and Ishihara has been re-elected yet again…

  11. Casual Observer says:

    It appears that Ishihara has been re-elected, so nothing’s changed after all.

  12. MirageRose says:

    Thanks for the update Dan. I’ve just watch the one of recent updated vids that Ishihara asked people to refrain from watching cherry blossoms during “hanami” during night time and this caused alot serious criticisisms. Renho the minister asked told him that any restrictions of people’s freedom of movement and social activities should be kept at a minimum.

    Considering the earthquake and tsunami disaster, he calls it a divine punishment or “tembatsu” for the Japanese people’s “egoism” which I think was very insensitive to the people who are already devasted by its’ impact and the damage it caused losing homes and many lives. So right there it seems like who won’t change for the matter of fact along with his past biggotry, racist comments, and insults and other foreigners claiming that Japan is better and can be without anyone’s help.

    I’ve read messages from other manga-ka saying that they’re planning to move out if the bill has been passed. I also heard that the bill is not only going to affect hentai games but the other companies such as Square Enix, Capcom, and other well known names to censor their content.

    So I hope and pray for the victims of the tsunami-quake to recover including the anime and manga artists who are still out there trying to continue their work.

While I may not be able to respond to all comments, I always welcome feedback. Thank you.

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