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From the The Lost "Human Country" by Uchihashi Katsuto:

Sixty years after the end of WWII, what is happening in our society? If we can pick up the fragments of reality and unravel its background `mechanisms,` then the skeleton of the system whose mantle covers our epoch becomes manifest, and we can start to recognize just what were the `choices of postwar Japan` and what choices are being made at present.

For example, in Japan, which has the longest life expectancy of any country in the world, four in ten people reportedly feel that they `do not wish to lead a long life.` This is from a postal survey conducted by the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology not just of elderly people, but of 2,300 people aged 20 to 80 (90% response rate).
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 What does it say when a mood of `anxiety` that prevents people from taking simple delight in `living out the term of their natural lives` has cast its pall over society, while one in six of the world's millionaires is Japanese?

One cannot say that life in Japan is bright--either for the senior citizens now reaching old age after having lived through the severe wartime era, or for today's youth.

The vision of Japan in the 21st century painted by the Koizumi government only affirms this mode of society, as it chants the mantra that `a society of disparities is a dynamic society`.
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 Two fictions are at work behind the gimmick of `from government to the people`. The first is that the `people` (min) in this phrase implies not the people of the nation (kokumin) nor the citizenry (shimin) but the `people` who own the private capital that makes up the Japan Business Federation. [4] They see new chances to pursue profit through the `corporatizing of the public sector`.

The other fiction is the `extension of the bureaucracy` (kan no gaienka). This goes beyond amakudari (the practice of high-ranking government officials parachuting into related private-sector jobs), as in recent years the bureaucracy has burrowed into both the private sector and politics in a parasite-host relationship, and is devouring the `private.` The number of bureaucratic institutions disguised as private is exploding, as can been seen from the transformation of national universities into independent administrative corporations, the proliferation of policy recommendation groups otherwise known as think-tanks etc. And there is an increasing trend of bureaucrats becoming politicians.

Skillfully manipulating the aversion of the Japanese people against the `social structure giving bureaucrats absolute supremacy`, they proclaimed a punitive campaign against the bureaucracy with the result that the top strata of bureaucrats grow fat while ordinary front-line government employees become the target of bashing. This is the reality of Koizumi`s structural reforms.
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 Kuno writes that in this sort of society, there is no ground for dissenters to stand, as they are immediately labeled `unpatriotic` or `disloyal to the company`.

Moreover, `rebellion` and `heresy` are rejected outright, so that space for democracy to develop is denied. Kuno continues that the unifying secret that allows a society like Japan to come into being is the twin pillars of faith and profit/interest (rieki).

We can say that almost thirty years ago, the late Kuno Osamu was able to see through to the essence of Koizumi-politics and reforms.

With this sort of insight, we can clearly see that the high levels of support enjoyed by the Koizumi regime stems from this kind of conformism to the top.

How powerful the spell that has been cast over the `present` by the insurmountable `prewar`!
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 I want to conclude with a point that I must emphasize. That is, the formation of public opinion in Japan increasingly takes place through ideas initiated by a ruling stratum that includes the government as well as academia and business interests. This is called `reform` and the nation seems rather to enjoy being dragged along by it--in other words, by the radical decline of a discourse of `the people` and the predominance of a discourse of `power`.

By a discourse of `power` I mean those discourses that descend from the `peaks` embodied by the interests of the side wielding power, authority and jurisdiction. The most defining characteristic of the Koizumi government is the phenomenon that `reform` always originates from a `discourse of power`, is always defined through power, and ideas opposing it as well as dissenters always end up becoming objects of exclusion by being labeled either `defenders of entrenched interests` or `rebels`.

This is especially deplorable among so-called `scholars` who actively expend their energies in the formation, dissemination and universalization of discourses of power, and swarm around political power.
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 The present situation is precisely a case of what Kuno calls conformism. This condition is intensifying, with people falling over themselves in a homogenizing rush--a phenomenon of `frenetic homogenization`.
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 In a book that Shiroyama Saburo recently wrote with me, he remarked that when we were university students, `laissez-faire capitalism was simply not possible. People actively engaged the idea that unless constraints--in various senses--were set on capitalism, and elements that should be reformed were not reformed, capitalism itself could not survive. But now, such ideas have almost disappeared. Instead, a unitary conception of capitalism is thrust down our throats. For example, the ideals of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives long stood within the genealogy of revisionist capitalism. Yet now, if the Association of Corporate Executives even engages in debate on how to stimulate the business cycle, it neglects the fundamental questions of how to make capitalism into--to use an offbeat expression--something healthy, something geared towards human well-being and happiness. What has happened to the kindness of managers and capitalists?`
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As the French writer, Viviane Forrester, puts it: `People are no longer even the objects of exploitation. Now people are instead the objects of exclusion.`

How can `reforms` aimed at human exclusion possibly be reforms?



Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 06:08:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting article and link, thanks.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 02:43:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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