Saturday, April 05, 2008

When The Economist Speaks...

... you listen.

My only serious quibble is that the report neglects to mention that the rest of the DPJ is playing along with its own bribe-them-with-their-money tactics.


Younghusband said...

Jun, take a look at my post about a reply letter to this article. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Jun Okumura said...


You are male. You are - I’m making an educated guess here - white. You claim to be a Canadian. Now those things can only mean one or both of two things - a hilarious comedian, or a highly competent international civil servant. Since the latter as a rule does not read my blog, I assume that you are the former and therefore made up that post*. Well, young man (odds are you are much younger than I), shame on you! It’s one thing to write a fake letter to the editor, it’s another thing completely to spoof a real live DPJ politician. May a fatwa descend upon your misbegotten personage? Or something like that? Whatever.

Yours sincerely,
The Blog

* Yes, you are funny; you parodied the following letter, didn’t you? I mean, what kind of a politician would write a dead-serious letter like that? Give me a break, for God’s sake.

SIR – I must object to your usage of the term “the Dunkin' Donuts crowd” to refer pejoratively to “people who earn less than $50,000 a year and lack a college education” (“The end draws nigh”, February 23rd). A law student myself and a big fan of the goodies at Dunkin' Donuts, I have no plans to discontinue my patronage of the chain when my income increases. Moreover, this type of classist rhetoric is precisely not what American voters need from the media. Let's leave that to the political candidates.
Ames Grawert
New York

Younghusband said...

So what did you think about Iwakuni's letter? Is it over the top? An information operation to pre-empt any reduction in FDI? I think Tobias had some good points.

Jun Okumura said...

If I weren't sure that The Economist would check to make sure that Tesundo Iwakuni had really written the letter (according to Mr. Iwakuni, it solicited a written response), I would suspect that it was a prank.

Actually, I think that I can understand (in the intellectual sense) Mr. Iwakuni's anger. He is what I would call a healthy nationalist, a pro-Asia, pro-human rights patriot (but not a national security dove like DPJ members with Socialist Party roots); "Japain" is far from the cleverest example of British irony; and the article criticizes the DPJ quite severely. However nutty the letter may be textually, it has nothing to do with chauvinism. What the foreign media can sometimes forget, though, is that there has always been a strong streak of nationalism across the Japanese political spectrum. However, the left is no longer capable of making any real political impact, and the greatly expanded middle is relatively silent, so the noisome right receives most of the attention. That’s why someone like Mr. Iwakuni can startle foreign observers with an outburst like this.

On the last point (Economist criticism of the DPJ, which should have been the focus of Mr. Iwakuni's letter but ended up being not much more than a sidebar), I've gone beyond The Economist in criticizing the DPJ for competing with the LDP to bribe us with our money. Also, I’ve noted that the DPJ’s two major political talking points, its opposition to the continuation of counterterrorism activities in the Indian Ocean (and the Gulf) and the extension of the gasoline tax surcharge, do not appear anywhere in their policy manifesto. Yes, the LDP is losing, but the DPJ isn’t winning.

If you have anything specific that you want me to discuss further, let me know.