Back to Nature, Back to Humanity

Best wishes for a Happy New Year to you all!

Last year, the current of society changed direction completely with the landslide victory of the Liberal Democratic Party in a general election characterized by the theatrics of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The introduction into the electoral system of single-seat constituencies has transformed the election approach of Prime Minister Koizumi into marketing methods. Fully utilizing many commercial methods, such as public relations and advertising activities, through the media, centering on television, he managed spectacularly to turn the whole nation into a bunch of idiots and thereby achieve his triumph. In particular, he was able to get housewives and young people, who are usually not very interested in politics, to go to the polling stations by targeting them on the daytime TV gossip shows and deploying such popular characters as Livedoor President Takafumi Horie, (whose nickname is “Horiemon”), and he also managed to attract nonaffiliated voters. The strategy worked brilliantly.

Naturally, the market welcomed the victory and became brisk, with the result that we now have a phenomenon in which, via the Internet, the whole nation is turning into investors. The mood is beginning to seem like that which pervaded in the run-up to the bubble economy in the late 1980s, when people forgot all about craftsmanship. This is because the underlying current is Koizumi’s extreme shift to market principles a la the United States.

Accordingly, fund money has become rampant, completely destroying Japanese-style capitalism, and to make matters worse, even the Japanese spirit seems to have disappeared somewhere.

I said beforehand that after the election, as well as economic recovery, we would enter an age of heavy burdens. And that is just what is happening. Both individuals and companies are shrieking at the large number of policies that entail higher burdens for them. The government no doubt wants to secure as much revenue as it can, but the fact is that the means of use of this revenue have not undergone any reforms at all. And in the meantime, we have been forced into a situation in which the elderly just cannot afford to be ill.

The Koizumi style is the embodiment of a merciless type of thinking that supports the survival of the fittest. I thought that his fascist-like stance during the election was quite frightening.

I was born in a place deep in the mountains in Oita Prefecture, and I grew up in the bosom of nature and surrounded by delicious fresh air. If the mechanisms of nature itself and the people who exist in nature are evaluated simply according to the principle of efficiency, they are going to be judged as objects and in a way that has no relationship to humanity. People with only an urban sense of values say things like “You must have had a hard time” or “It must have been difficult for you,” but the fact is that in many ways living in such a remote place was not hard or difficult at all. Conversely, people living in the countryside have a gratitude for nature etched in their minds and bodies.

The approach of Koizumi theatrics in last year’s general election was tantamount to imposing urban values of efficiency on the regions, and in the end it saps the local vitality that has deep roots in the regions. This forcing of urban values is similar to the arrogance of the major developed countries in their response to developing nations.

Rather than this approach, the important thing is to actively promote regional independence. Am I the only person who was angered by the dictatorial manner of Koizumi’s brand of urbanism?

Incidentally, in Oita Prefecture alone, the LDP won three seats, the Democratic Party of Japan two seats, and the Social Democratic Party one seat. It was the only prefecture in Japan that saw a balance between the ruling and opposition parties. That is the interesting characteristic of Oita, the prefecture that produced former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.

Prime Minister Koizumi will step down in September. Whoever becomes the next prime minister, I believe that there is going to be a sharp return to the values of sympathy and virtue, which are the roots of human existence.

Back to nature, back to humanity! That is my message for 2006.