Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is the Happiness Realization Party Newsworthy If It Manages to Mobilize 2,600 Happy Science Followers in Tokyo to Protest Chinese Action around the...

There’s some commotion out there on a discussion forum about the Japanese media’s treatment, or lack thereof, of a October 3 event in Shibuya featuring “about 2,600, which apparently included ordinary people, not just right-wing thugs” raging against a Chinese incursion into the territorial waters of the Senkaku Islands. But if this claim by the Happiness Realization Party, the political arm of the Happy Science—does it have a special Hell for economists?—cultreligious movement, is true, it was an event staged by the HRP itself, a party that won 0.39% of the proportional representation vote, 0.50% of the prefectural vote, and zero seats in the July 11 upper house election.

The HRP did somewhat better today (October 16) in its demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy, as it attracted Toshio Tamogami, the former Chief of the Sir Defense General Staff who was prematurely retired during the Aso(!) administration for publicly challenging the government’s long-held and highly restrictive views on the constitutionality of collective defense (read:coming to the aid of the US military protecting Japan). In case you wondered, the HRP has been canoodling with Tamogami of late.

The Sankei group is the only MSM outlet that appears to be taking the event seriously.

So, are the MSM correct to make light of the two occasions? Yes and no. On one hand, they were not expressions of the genuine and general if low-key Japanese outrage but events manufactured by fringe movements that represent a tiny fraction of the Japanese public. On the other hand, they appear to have touched off a much larger and sporadically violent set of protests in China—okay, they do outnumber us 10 to 1—timed to coincide with the second event. The Japanese MSM probably should have used the Japanese events as lead-in to what would have been a useful meditation on the contrast between the two nations whenever one or other incident like this one pops up.

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