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Kozo's Thoughts
Random, Weird, and 100% 石黒光司
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Welcome to Kozo's Thoughts! As the name suggests, this blog is dedicated to my thoughts. This blog is basically a publicly available personal blog. It exists to amuse me in the future when I look back on things that I wrote. I generally write when I feel like, which is not often. I write about things that interest me at the moment, but I also I pander to my single digit audience to let them know how I'm doing. The open nature of this blog keeps me from being too personal, but I think there is a lot of value in keeping my (boring and self-serving) posts open for all. I'm open to all comments and criticisms, but please remember that I'm not really writing this thing to change the world.

Please feel free to a leave comment on any post. Also, please sign my guestbook.

Kozo's Thoughtsブログへようこそ!このブログは名前の通り僕のいい加減な考えを適当にまとめたものです。一応このブログは未来の自分が読んで楽しんでもらうために書いています。後は数少ない読者のために僕のアップデートをしています。あまりアップデートしていませんがせめて一ヶ月に一回は何か書こうとしています。エントリーのほとんどは誰でも読めるようになっています。なので、あまりプライベートなことは書いてありません。このブログは基本的には英語で書かせていただいています。日本語のはいっているエントリーはすべて日本語タッグがつています。このブログは僕のミクシィプロフィールの日記へシンディケートされています。

Ohta Kouzou
I've been meaning to write an entry on this blog for a while now. I figured I'd use my birthday as an excuse to write this entry. A lot has changed since my last entry. Most notably, I no longer live in Tokyo's 19th electoral district. I am now a resident of Nakano, part of Tokyo's 7th electoral district. Moving out of my relative's house and moving off into the centre of the city has afforded me a lot of opportunities to explore this "town." I'd write about these explorations, but I'm not a huge fan of writing and I now have a job that involves a great deal of writing. The other major change in my life since the last post is that I've found a regular stream of translation jobs through an agency. I can live fairly comfortably, and the way my job is set up I have a lot of flexibility with my time. In many ways I'm like a student with assignments that are constantly due. The difference being that I am now paid pretty good money to complete these assignments, and I have the right to refuse assignments. Still not sure where all this will take me, but stick around to find out!

Hopefully I'll force myself to write some more stuff here, but no promises.
Monday August 31st, 2009 16:43 - Reppin' the Tokyo 1-9!!! Part 7: It's a wrap!
Ohta Kouzou
I was up late following the election results online with the folks from TPR and MFT. I even got a small shout out on the broadcast when I contributed a useless piece of trivia on ドーラン. Needless to say, it was an exciting night for political junkies, such as myself. The results were almost a complete flip-flop over the last Lower House election, with the DPJ coming out with a win of historic proportions. How the DPJ and LDP adapt to being in unfamiliar positions is what everyone is wondering about now. Because while last night's results were historic, they were somewhat expected based on the polling data coming in during the days leading up to the election, no one knows exactly what to expect with this shift in power dynamics. But I'll leave you to read other smarter people's analysis on what might happen, and the factors that might come into play. I'm here to write about Tokyo's 19th district.

I had predicted a DPJ win, with a possible PR seat for the LDP candidate, with the JCP coming in third, and the HRP and independent candidates bringing up the rear in that order. I wan't wrong on the Suematsu (DPJ) win, but I had given Matsumoto's empty youth campaign too much credit. Matsumoto was one of 67 Koizumi children (out of 77) who did not manage to defend their seat. I think if he were able to present something more substantive than his youthful everyman schtick, he might have done a bit better. But as it was, Matsumoto's defeat to Suematsu was significant. Matsumoto lost around 33,000 votes compared to the last Lower House election in 2005. All of those votes seem to have gone to Suematsu. That defeat was one of the bigger ones the LDP faced in Tokyo, and Matsumoto's adjusted PR rank was 14 (out of 18 LDP losers). That rank was well below the rank needed (5) to get a seat through PR. Shimizu (JCP) actually increased his vote count from the last election by 49 votes. The most shocking part of last night's results were the numbers for Takahashi (Ind) and Ishida (HRP). While I did not expect Ishida to do particularly well, I did expect him to garner more votes than the crazy lady with the the fucked up manifesto. As it turns out 2912 people voted for the crazy independent lady, compared to 2740 people for the crazy party-affiliated man. I'm seriously hoping that people in the 19th district voted for Takahashi on a lark, rather than because they identified with her platform. (Which BTW I finally got a hold of, and the whole thing is crazier than the excerpt.) Overall voting in the district went up by 3% (or 10,083 votes) with most of the new votes going fairly evenly towards Suematsu and the two crazies. I also recently discovered that all candidates have to pay a ¥3 million (about CAN$ 35,000) deposit to stand for election, the deposit is only returned if you garner 10% of the vote. Given that high cost, I wonder whether this exercise was worth it for Takahashi and Ishida.

So that wraps up my election coverage. I'll try to do more features that force me to read Japanese and summarize them into (somewhat sarcastic) English. So until next time, remember not to underestimate the electoral appeal of the crazy independent lady.
Ohta Kouzou
The last candidate covered in this ongoing series is Yoshinori Suematsu, of the Democratic Party of Japan. He is also an incumbent in this race, because while he lost the district last election, he got in as a PR candidate.

Yoshinori Suematsu of the Democratic Party of Japan

Back Story
Yoshinori Suematsu was born in 1956 in Fukuoka. He attended Tochiku High School, and continued his education at Hitotsubashi University (presumably his initial connection to the 19th). After graduating Hitotsubashi in 1980, Suematsu joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1986, Suematsu obtained a Masters degree from Princton University. In 1994, after watching the Ministry getting caught up in Gulf War diplomacy, Suematsu felt Japanese politics was in a sorry state and he quit the ministry to pursue a career in politics. Later that year Suematsu ran unsuccessfully as an Independent candidate for the Chofu city mayoral race. In 1996, Suematsu joined the newly formed Democratic Party of Japan, a precursor to the current DPJ, and ran a successful campaign to represent Tokyo's 19th district in the Lower House. Suematsu boasts that in his first term in office he crafted 5 lawmaker-initiated legislation (think private member's bills), and helped craft 5 others. In 2000, Suematsu successfully defended his seat, and was given the role of Vice-Minister for Public Safety in the DPJ's Next Cabinet system (think shadow cabinet). Suematsu successfully defended his seat again in 2003, and was subsequently named the Vice-Minister of Affairs in the DPJ Next Cabinet. As previously mentioned, in 2005 Suematsu failed to carry the 19th district, but managed to retain a seat in the Lower House by being elected through PR. Soon afterwards in 2006, Suematsu became the Minister of the Environment in the Next Cabinet. Earlier this year Suematsu became chair of the Lower House Special Committee on Problems Concerning Youth.

Suematsu points to his past as a former diplomat and government bureaucrat, to take stands against bureaucratic politics and wasteful spending by the government. He points to his experience as a diplomat during the Gulf War to tout his crisis management experience. He would use these skills to take a leadership re in determining policy for things like dealing with the new H1N1 influenza virus, a North Korean missile situation, and natural disasters like earthquakes. He also touts his role as the shadow Environment Minister, where he made proposals to prevent global warming. Unsurprisingly, Suematsu is for diplomacy and takes a stand against the war in Iraq and nuclear proliferation. Suematsu also supports reforming the pension system and health care to ensure that people have a proper social safety net. Suematsu's policies do not stray from the party's manifesto, but he takes the time to highlight his personal strengths and experience.

Democratic Party of Japan posters in the Tokyo 19th district
Unfortunately I have managed to miss Suematsu's public campaign. All I have to go on are the posters, which are rather bland, and on some anecdotes garnered from newspaper articles. Suematsu's posters often seen with the DPJ's national posters sport the DPJ's "regime change" slogan, and notes that Suematsu is a Lower House member and a former diplomat. An article on campaigning by candidates that were ousted by by Koizumi children in 2005 notes that Suematsu was stung by the 5000 vote loss and felt that a little more campaigning may have gotten him the win. Therefore, Suematsu and his team are apparently doing more to connect with voters in the district.

I believe that Suematsu will win thanks to the DPJ's popularity wave, and his impressive resume. If he were to lose I believe it would be a close loss to the LDP's Matsumoto and he'd get another PR seat. I would be shocked if Suematsu was not elected.
Ohta Kouzou
We're nearing the end of the candidate profiles. Today we look at Akio Shimizu of the Japanese Communist Party.

Japan Communist Party candidate Akio Shimizu

Back Story
Akio Shimizu is a 58 year old Communist Party official, and he has been for at least 15 years. He is the party's district head of this region. He at one time was an official of the Democratic Youth League of Japan, the JCP's youth wing. He dropped out of Waseda University at some point in his life. He is the only candidate running in the 19th not to reside in the district. This will be the second time Shimizu has run in this district under the Communist banner, the previous time he came a distant third (out of three candidates) in the 2005 Lower House elections. If Shimizu's profile seems very dry and halting it is because unlike the other candidates (Saeko Takahashi excepted), Shimizu does not have an independent web presence and does not provide any sort of a personal timeline. This back story is composed of a number of nuggets I've managed to cobble together for various sources.

Like Ishida, Shimizu's platform and campaign are indistinguishable from the party's platform and campaign. So I'll be talking about the JCP more than Shimizu in this section. If you're a fan of revolutionary "take down the capitalist overlords by any means" communism, the Japanese Communist Party is probably not for you. In fact looking through the party's policies and actions it seems that the JCP is closer to a Democratic Socialist-type party in any other country. The JCP has been an unwavering voice of the left in Japanese politics and garners votes that would have gone to the old Japan Socialist Party. The four promises made on Shimizu's posters are 1) the prevention of the destruction of the employment system, 2) free health care for people 75 years and older, 3) opposing raising the consumption tax, and 4) the abolition of nuclear weapons. While the communist label gives the party a ideology to stand behind and not waver for political opportunism, but it's rhetoric is not one in which the state or other opposition parties should disappear. Incidents by groups like the Japanese Red Army, and the United Red Army, and the pre-war history of the party, have tainted the image of communism and "red" politics, and some may doubt the JCP's sincerity should it ever achieve real power.

It's probably because I live in a communist stronghold, but I notice that the JCP has many different posters that appeal to specific issues. The main focus of this campaign seems to be people/citizen centric solutions, as opposed to corporate ones. I have not seen Shimizu himself on the campaign trail, but I can only assume he is out there and plugging away the JCP manifesto.

Shimizu will not win a seat, but I believe he will come in third with a fairly sizable margin between him and the fourth place finisher. I also assume the JCP will probably get a few votes on the PR vote from this district. The JCP has not faired particularly well in recent elections, and there's no reason to believe that there is a great Communist resurgence going on in Japan, despite some Western media reports.

Akio Ishida may be a JCP drone, but he's my kind of drone. I wish there was more to say, but there is very little information available about this man.
Ohta Kouzou
Shinichiro Ishida Poster

Shinichiro Ishida is the Happiness Realization Party's candidate in the 19th district.

Back Story
Ishida was born and raised in Kokubunji. He went to Elementary and Middle school in Kokubunji, before going to the private Soka High School in Kodaira. The latter fact is sort of interesting because the school is operated by Soka Gakkai, the new religious movement behind Komeito. He attended Nihon University and graduated with an Arts & Science degree. After graduation he worked at OBIC for a little over 4 years. On July 7, of the 7th year of the Heisei-era (1995) he officially joined the Happy Science, new religious movement. From there he moved around various Happy Science branches including Yamanashi, Nagano, Ina, Matsue, Okayama, Tokorozawa, Nerima, and Suginami, until finally becoming the head of the Musashino branch, a position he currently holds. When the Happy Science movement created the Happiness Realization Party in May of this year, Ishida was named the Vice-President of the Tokyo Office of the newly-formed party. He also has a wife and two kids.

I think it's fair to say that Shinichiro Ishida is not running a personalized campaign. Beyond introducing himself as born and raised in Kokubunji, and still resident in the city, the rest of his campaign material and speeches are indistinguishable from the HRP platform. Ishida doesn't make a case for why HE would be a good candidate, but rather why the HRP's ideals are good. So unlike some other HRP candidates like Doctor Nakamatsu, Ishida seems to be just a HRP drone. So what follows is really just the HRP's platform, and not Ishida's own nuanced view of it.

So the big thing the HRP is stressing is the elimination of the consumption tax and the inheritance tax. The argument being that these taxes discourage spending, and ultimately does not to lead to more government revenue. They point to the overall decrease in government revenue prior to the implementation of the tax, and after it was raised from 3% to the current 5%. They don't discuss other factors that might have lead to these decreases and their graphs blow up the scale significantly making even minor changes seem major. Their second major policy plank concerns national defence. The HRP is using the threat of a North Korean nuclear missile attack to make the argument that Japan should retain the right to preemptive strike. This would entail repealing Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, and that Japan should be responsible for its own defense. The third major plank the HRP presents is increasing Japan's population to 300 million (Japan's current population lies around 127 million). To accomplish this insanely ambitious goal, the HRP suggests a radical overhaul of the housing, education, and transportation situation of the citizenry. Apparently the HRP's proposal would build massive combined commercial-residential high rises in city centres where families would live in 6LDK units, and work would be a short monorail ride away, if not in the same building. I think this ties in with the HRP's proposal to link up the world with an international linear motor train system. Oh by the way, for all the foreigners reading this profile, the HRP would also encourage immigration and naturalization as part of it's population plan. I'm not sure how all this ties in with Happy Science's ideology, but really all you need to know about Happy Science and the HRP is that it's all one big personality cult centred around Ryuho Okawa.

Happiness Realization Party 19th District HQ
Happiness Realization Party Campaign Posters

Ishida's campaign headquarters happens to be right behind my house. It's a private residence with tons of HRP posters. I didn't bother ringing the bell for fear I might Realize Happiness™. As you can tell from the photo the HRP has numerous flavors of poster and most feature Okawa, and not the candidate. This is all consistant with the HRp's incredibly well-funded campaign that featured full page color ads in major news papers, and tons of different posters abound. The campaign is focussed on the three planks described above, with the consumption tax issue getting the most attention.

When the HRP ran candidates in the Tokyo prefectural elections last month, they came away with nothing. I expect the same here in the 19th. Ishida will definitely lose, although I expect him to do better than Takahashi. I hope to god that the HRP won't garner enough votes to get a PR-seat, but I'm not entirely sure how much influence Happy Science actually wields.

Shinichiro Ishida is a drone of the Happy Science new religious movement, and their political party, the Happiness Realization Party.
Ohta Kouzou
The second profile will cover Saeko Takahashi the oldest, and the only female candidate in the race.

Back Story

Looking at most election websites the only thing you can uncover about Takahashi is that she's an unemployed and unaffiliated candidate that is 67 years old. The Mainichi's election website sheds some more light on her character by adding that she's a housewife that graduated from Chugoku Women's Junior College (the current: Chugoku Junior College). She apparently has also worked as a temp at the Chugoku-shikoku Regional Agricultural Administration Office (presumably during her student days) and was/is on the PTA of a private school. According to official document released by the Tokyo Election Board, Takahashi lives in Nishi-Tokyo, and she chooses to render her name in old-style kanji. So instead of 高橋佐恵子, as it has been rendered in most publications, she renders her name 橋佐子 (it would appear that she renders the second character, hashi, differently as well, as it is handwritten on the form). The use of old style characters even continues into the yomigana of her name, which uses ゑ, instead of え in Saeko. The only other thing we can gather from the form is that her (presumed) married name is Sasaki.

It's as this point I've run out of any semblance of reliable information. The politics section is comprised of hearsay I've gathered from the mother of all rumor mills, a 2chan thread. Her campaign flyer (allegedly) calls for the repeal of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, the Law Concerning School Education , Anti-Prostitution Law, the Law Concerning Regional Governments, the Law Concerning Basic Resident Registration, Law Concerning Pension and Social Insurance, and Western-style taxation and accounting. I'll traslate a portion of her (alleged) campaign flyer. The writing style is a little old and I'm not willing to guarantee that I've gotten the nuance of the whole thing right.

To serve in public office, is to do the work of the high house of the Fujiwara-clan, the Imperial Family.
We declare that the party politics (introduced) by the Koreans to be destructive of noble politics.
The governors of the regional governments that ordered the assassination of the high house of the Imperial Family, are enemies of the state.
Those who are not loyal to the Emperor will be subjugated.

Religions besides the Buddhist temple of the high house of the Fujiwara-clan will not be allowed.
Farmers must protect the Fujiwara-clan and the fields,
Yamamori (mountain guards) must protect the mountains, and Hakamori (grave guards) must protect the graves.
Public utilities will not be allowed.
The selling of labour should not occur.
All trade should be by barter.

The OriginalCollapse )

Takahashi is also alledged to have made a phone call where she accused Koreans posing as Japanese for causing the problems in Japanese society like JUKI-NET and cameras in the Diet.

So it seems like we have a nationalistic primitivist, I think. Actually, primitivist is going a bit too far, but you get the idea.

Aside from these (alleged) flyers it doesn't seem like Takahashi is doing any campaigning. She has no posters, no website, or any presence as far as I can tell. Although... Yesterday, when I was walking near the station there was a car with loud speakers playing a tape of a woman reading something in a fairly sombre tone, but it never mentioned a name. Part of me wants to go to her neighborhood tomorrow to see if she's done any campaigning closer to home.

Given that most people probably haven't even heard of Takahashi, I doubt she will garner many votes, insane platform aside. I predict Takahashi will come dead last in the field of 5.

While I evoked the name of Andrew Wattie in the title, I can honestly say as far as crazy independent fringe candidates go I prefer Wattie. At least he comes from a place striving for world peace and harmony (in his very own fucked up way), from what I can tell about Takahashi, she is coming from a place of hate and paranoia. So what I'm saying is, comparing Saeko Takahashi to Andrew Wattie is not fair to Wattie.
Ohta Kouzou
So we kick off the profiles section of this feature by taking a closer look at the incumbent, the LDP's Yohei Matsumoto. Matsumoto just finished his first term as a Lower House member, having been elected out of this district in 2005.

Back Story
According to Matsumoto's own literature, which tells Matsumoto's life story in comic form, he was born in 1972. He ran track in middle and high schools. He studied economics at Keio University where he continued running track. After university, he joined Sanwa Bank (now The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ) where he awoke to the importance of politics. In 2003, he quit the company to run for the Lower House, he lost that race but was successful in his second try in 2005. You can find a copy of the comic below.

But you didn't come here for the short summary, did you? Let me fill in the blanks that couldn't be depicted in a 6 panel comic. Matsumoto was born in Setagaya-ward on August 31, 1973, which would make Election Day the day before his birthday. I wonder if he'll get what he wants for his birthday. He was born into a typical salaryman's family, some may say he was born poor. (The words of his supporter, not mine.) He ran track, specifically the 400m, starting in middle school, and continued into university. He participated in the National Inter-High School competition, the Junior Olympics, and inter-college meets. In 1996 he graduated from Keio University's faculty of economics, where he specialized in economic policy. He joined the Sanwa Bank shortly after graduation where he started taking an interest in politics and he began attending political meetings. In April 2003, he quit his job at what was at that point UFJ Bank. (Which gives you an idea of how quickly the banking scene in Japan changed.) He began giving political speeches on the street, and ran under the LDP banner in the 2003 election. He came a distant second to the DPJ's Yoshi At some point before this election attempt he had become the head of the party's district office. He ran again in 2005 where he narrowly defeated Suematsu. Matsumoto is still single.

Matsumoto is a member of the Ibuki faction of the LDP. Aside from the policies outlined in the LDP manifesto, Matsumoto is in favor of abolishing special privileges accorded to Diet members (e.x. free train passes). Matsumoto leads by example, or at least he claims to, by communting by train and paying out of pocket and by choosing to drive a used car. In a similar vein among his listed accomplishments, he includes playing a part in ablishing the Diet member's pension plan. As for district specific policy, Matsumoto supports establishing the North Tama region, of which the 19th district is a part, as a a model region of "city and nature balance." Matsumoto served on numerous committees placing third out of 480 Lower House members in terms of committee attendance. While his initial election in 2005 makes him a Koizumi-children, he does have any strong allegiance to Koizumi. A Nationalist website rates matsumoto highly as a patriot, and his committee participation would seem to support that view, but I have not found any overt nationalist expressions directly attributed to Matsumoto. What's clear, as we'll see in the next section, is that Matsumoto isn't fighting for any particular cause, but rather is a loyal LDP backbencher.


Looking at Matsumoto's posters it's clear he is selling himself as the young dynamic everyman. His poster proudly proclaims that "HE CAN DO IT, because he's a former salaryman, and not a 2nd generation politician." When I first read this I thought it was a subtle dig at an opponent, but it turns out none of the candidates running in the 19th are hereditary candidates. The second slogan in the upper right calls for a "generational change (世代交代), for a energetic Japan." Generational change plays against the DPJ's election cry of change of government (政権交代). Finally the 35 near the bottom right is his age. So basically Matsumoto playing against the image of the LDP as a group of old white men... I mean old men who inherited their place in politics. This impression was confirmed when I saw Matsumoto campaigning in front of Kunitachi station last evening.

Don't let the picture fool you, Matsumoto's campaign had the attention of a significant crowd of older people on the surrounding sidewalks. The person on the mic is party heavy Sanzo Hosaka, telling onlookers that while he sort of understands LDP fatigue they should really vote for the young Yohei Matsumoto, 35 years-old. Basically his message boiled down to you can vote for another party with your PR vote, but PLEASE vote for Matsumoto he's the future of the party. You'll notice I attached Matsumoto's age after his name. Well basically every time Matsumoto's name was mentioned it was always followed by his age. I understand that you want to repeat the candidate's name as much as possible in order to make sure every passerby remembers the name for election day, but is the name really necessary? It really highlights the ridiculousness of repeating the name over and over again.

Not good. Matsumoto got elected off the Koizumi wave four years ago, and not based on his personal characteristics. Given how close that race was, I doubt he can overcome the current anti-LDP feeling with his "I'm not your typical LDP politician" act. Matsumoto is on the LDP's PR-list for Tokyo, but I don't know how close his margin of defeat will be in this district. The LDP single member constituency candidates are all ranked first on the PR-list, and ties will be broken by margin of defeat in each contest. He may have a chance if it's as close as it was last time, and the vote Matsumoto but not the party in PR if you must rhetoric reaches anyone.

Short Summary
Yohei Matsumoto is a political lightweight trying to win election off the fact that he is a YOUNG everyman. Oh, and did I mention he's 35 years old?
Ohta Kouzou
Some of you might have heard, but there's going to be an election next week! Specifically, an election to select the 480 members that will make up the 45th Japanese House of Representatives, Japan's Lower House. 300 out of the 480 members will be elected first-past-the-post out of single-seat constituencies (think ridings in Canadian politics), while the remaining 180 members will be elected by proportional representation (through the D'Hondt method) in 11 block districts. That means every Japanese elector will select an individual representative out of their single-seat constituencies, and a party they would like to see represented in their block district. Proportional representative lists are published in advance by each party, and it is possible to run in a single-seat constituency, and be listed on a party's PR-list at the same time. This means it is possible for a candidate to lose in their single-seat constituency, and still get elected. In order for this to happen their party must garner enough votes to reach the candidate's spot on the PR-list, AND the candidate must have garnered at least 10% of the vote in their single-seat constituency race.

ANYWAY, you'll be able to get all that information and more in English through Wikipedia, or one of the fine Japan blogs I recommended recently. What you might NOT be able to get is a break down of the various candidates running in Tokyo's 19th District, the district in which I currently reside. As an exercise in political research, translation, and summery, I will be profiling the 5 candidates that will be running out of Tokyo's 19th District, in a feature I like to call "Reppin' the Tokyo 1-9!!!"

Part 1 of this series, which I have given the Colbertian subtitle "Better Know a District," will be an overview of the district as a whole, and subsequent parts will be an in depth look at each candidate. So... On with the show!!!

Reppin' the Tokyo 1-9!!! Part 1: Better Know a District

Tokyo's 19th District, THE FIGHTIN' 19, is composed of the cities of Nishi-Tokyo (formed by the merger of Tanashi and Yaho in 2001), Kodaira, Kokubunji, and Kunitachi. If you looked in a map of Tokyo the 19th district would cover the geographic centre of the capital. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, as of September 2008, the 19th district was home to just over 460,000 voters. Since the electoral reforms by Prime Minister Hosokawa in 1994 that created the 19th district in the first place, the district has seen four Lower House elections. Only the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Democratic Party (DPJ), and the Communist Party (JCP) have fielded a candidate in each election. The most recent election in 2005 only featured candidates of the aforementioned parties. The DPJ's Yoshinori Suematsu had won the district 3 times, prior to his narrow defeat to the LDP's Yohei Matsumoto, one of the "Koizumi children" in the 2005 "Postal Reform" election. The LDP has steadily increased its vote count in each election, gaining a mere 47,675 votes in 1996, to gaining 138,159 votes in the 2005 election. The DPJ's Suematsu's vote count continued to increase since his first election, before taking a bit of a hit in the 2005 election. The JCP's vote total shrunk to 27,811, down from a high of 38,040 in 2000. A cursory glance of the past results seem to give the impression that the 19th is a relatively liberal/reform-oriented district, but let's look at the district's constituant cities and results from local elections to see if we can gain some more insights.

Nishi-Tokyo (西東京) (lit: West Tokyo) is the most populous city within the 19th district with a population of 194,851 (obviously not all voters). As previously mentioned, Nishi-Tokyo was created in 2001 in a merger between Tanashi and Yaho, which has the distinction of being the first municipal merger of the 21st Century in Japan. Nishi-Tokyo forms the eastern portion of the district, making it the closest to the population centre of Tokyo. Looking through Nishi-Tokyo's profile, nothing stands out as being particularly interesting/notable. If I had to pick something it would be that Citizen Holdings Co. (the watchmakers) have their headquarters in Nishi-Tokyo. Perhaps it is this mundanity that lead to Nobita-kun's house being portrayed as being in Tanashi in the 1990's Doraemon anime. If it's a Tokyo Tower-style landmark you're looking for, look no further than Skytower Nishi-Tokyo, a 195 meter tall multi-use broadcast antennae. Some famous people you may know who hail from Nishi-Tokyo include, actress Aoi Miyazaki, former-Major League baseball player Tadahito Iguchi, and rock singer DIAMOND✡YUKAI. In the Tokyo prefectural election, held last month, the people of Nishi-Tokyo voted overwhelmingly for the DPJ candidate whose margin over the LDP candidate who came in second was around 25%. Although both got elected as Nishi-Tokyo sends 2 candidates to the Metropolitan Assembly. The remaining candidate was a JCP newcomer that managed around 16% of the vote. More locally, the mayor of Nishi-Tokyo is backed by the DPJ, and leftist parties seem to control a comfortable amount of seats in the city council

Kodaira (小平) is the second most populous city in the district with a total population of 186,944. It occupies the geographic centre of the district sandwiched between Nishi-Tokyo and Kokubunji. Kodaira is apparently famous for it's blueberries, and holds a blueberry festival in early August complete with a weird mascot namedd Bluebe. Debaters may be familiar with Tsuda College, a private women's university in Kodaira, that regularly sends competitors to the WUDC. Aside from that, the only other fixture I felt was interesting enough to include, if only for the name, was the GAS MUSEUM. Famous people that hail from this bedroom town include actor Shun Oguri, voice actor Koji Tsujitani, and musician Masatoshi Mashima. Like in Nishi-Tokyo, Kodaira sent both a DPJ and LDP members to the Metropolitan assembly last month. Although the margin of victory for the DPJ member was much closer at "only" 19%, this magin represents a significant growth compared to the previous election where the DPJ candidate and the LDP candidate garnered an almost equal number of votes. Locally the story is a bit more interesting, with a near perfect split of the city council seats between the LDP-lead right-centre coalition and a leftist coalition composed of the DPJ, JCP, Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the Tokyo Seikatsusha Network. The mayor, supported by the latter coalition, defeated the incumbent, supported by the former coalition, in 2005.

Kokubunji (国分寺) boasts a population of 120,585, and together with Kunitachi forms the western end of the district. Kokubunji is so-named for the temple built in the area as part of Emperor Shomu's Provincial temple system. The remains of the temple and its grounds are a designated historic site. Aside from that, anime fans may be interested to know that Kokubunji is home of Production I.G, the animation studio responsible for works like Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, and one of my all time favorites, Patlabor. Aside from those two things, Kokubunji seems to be another typical bedroom town. The list of famous people for Kokubunji is surprisingly short but it includes recently deceased musician Kiyoshiro Imawano, Reo Tsuchiya and Yoshiyuki Kato from the acapella group RAG FAIR, and violinist Sayaka Shoji. Since Kokubunji shares an electoral district with Kunitachi for the Tokyo prefectural election, I'll start with Kokubunji's local political scene. Kokubunji's city council is composed overwhelmingly of left leaning non-LDP/Komeito-types (two-thirds to be exact). As for the Tokyo prefectural election, in a fairly close three-way race (with a JCP candidate coming a distant fourth), the DPJ and the Seikatsusha Network candidate (also supported by the DPJ) won seats over the LDP candidate. Which is a big improvement for the DPJ since they did not run any candidates in the district in the last election. I do not have any precinct-by-precinct results to analyze, so I have no idea how much of the margin was contributed by Kokubunji, but given the city's relative size compared to Kunitachi and the make-up of the city council, I think it's fair to infer that Kokubunji is a left-leaning city.

Finally we come to Kunitachi (国立) the city in which I currently reside. It is the smallest of the 19th district's cities with a population of 73,588. But it is arguably the most interesting city not only in the district but in the entire country. Kunitachi gets it's name for the first character of it's neighboring cities Kokubunji (分寺) and Tachikawa (川). The characters 国立 also can be read as Kokuritsu, or national, which sometimes causes confusion. For example the 国立音楽大学 is not the National College of Music, but the Kunitachi College of Music. However, Kunitachi is home to a national university, the not-confusingly-named Hitotsubashi University. Hitotsubashi is the only national university that specializes exclusively in the liberal arts. In part because of the presence of the university, a large portion of Kunitachi was designated as a special educational region in 1952. The designation, the first for Tokyo, means Kunitachi DOES NOT have any pachinko parlours, sex-shops, or big hotels (i.e. things that can corrupt public morals). The designation came about as part of a movement of citizens and students who came together to combat the negative influence of businesses that were catering to American soldiers stationed at Tachikawa military base during the Korean War. Kunitachi also has the distinction of being only one of two cities to not be connected to the JUKI-NET system (the other being Yamatsuri in Fukushima). Things like this give Kunitachi a disproportionate amount of attention considering its size. Not many famous people hail from Kunitachi like ballerina Miyako Yoshida, and disgraced Johnny's talent Akira Akasaka but many famous people choose to make their home in Kunitachi like actor Tomokazu Miura, and potter and designated living treasure Koheiji Miura (no relation). I already covered the Tokyo prefectural election results in the Kokubunji section, but Kunitachi is considered an outlier in its local election scene as well. Kunitachi is one of the few local governments in Japan that is lead by the JCP. While the JCP does not hold a majority of city council seats by any means, the JCP does lead the government coalition on the Kunitachi council.

So there you have it! Tokyo's 19th district... A collection of bedroom communities that leans a bit left. Next time I start looking at individual candidates.
Monday August 17th, 2009 17:28 - Odaiba Revenge
South Park

As I mentioned in passing in my previous post, I visited Odaiba with Marc so he could take pictures of the 18 meter Gundam currently on display at Shiokaze Park. What I didn't mention was that Marc's plans were largely foiled because the night-time illumination that usually graces the Gundam were turned off because of the fireworks. I wasn't carrying my proper camera at the time, and I only managed a grainy picture using my cell phone. Marc managed some decent photos on his cellphone, as opposed to his DSLR, but apparently lost them in the shuffle.

So when I decided to go to the Hitoto Yo mini-concert at Odaiba, I decided it was my duty as a friend to go take some photos. You can find all my Odaiba Gundam photos at:

Ohta Kouzou
Big props if you can get the title reference. It's been one week since I returned from Kyushu. Instead of recovering from camp life, partying in Saga, and a 15 hour bus ride back to Tokyo, I went out, without rest, with Marc for his farewell night in Tokyo. That adventure took us from his hotel in Shinagawa, to Odaiba to see the life-sized Gundam (which coincided with the Odaiba fireworks), and finally a dance-'til-morning session in Roppongi. Needless to say accumulated fatigue and alcohol did not lead to the most pleasant of results for me. I've spent the last week, with the Obon holidays as my cover, recovering and doing very little in the way of anything truly productive.

One thing my lack of productivity has lead to is the lack of updates on this blog, and perhaps more importantly the not writing of a post I promised Michael as I left Saga. The post might be a bit late, but I'll write it out anyway, in order to fulfil my promise and to perhaps inform someone else of my blog reading habits. This post will give a quick rundown of all the Japan-related blogs that appear on the links sidebar of this blog. I've also subscribed to most of these blogs through LJ, so you can get a decent rundown of recent content by taking a quick look at my LJ Friends' page. So, off we go...

1) Debito.org: The grand daddy of all English language Japan blogs. I think most foreigners in Japan have found their way to this site at least once, and it's the site that I've been following the longest. The site is chock full or interesting articles by Debito and his meticulous recountings of his various life experiences, and his archiving of all sorts things makes the site a very valuable resource. As a blog however, Debito.org does not rank very high on my list of recommendations. The blog will keep you informed of social justice issues and events going on in Japan, and you will often find repostings of news stories highlighting injustice in Japan. Unfortunately given the general theme of these postings, the comments' sections of each story yields very little in the way of interesting discussion, which is not helped by Debito's notoriety that attracts many trolls. These days i find myself questioning Debito's overall tone and his story selection which at times seems forced. Debito.org is definitely important enough to follow, but it's probably not necessary to subscribe to it to be up on every new post as it gets upped.

2) Mutant Frog Travelogue: I've pimped Mutantfrog before, most recently when I translated the article that lead me to their website in the first place. MFT currently has 4 active contributers that post all sorts of things. I had occasion to meet Adamu and Curzon at a Tokyo Bloggers Meetup. I believe all 4 contributers currently live and work in Japan, so the blog has a much stronger Japan slant than it had in the past, but the blog is by no means exclusive to Japan issues. Basically the contributers post what interests them, and the posts range from long researched and analyzed posts on obscure and not-so obscure topics, and 2 line look-what-I-found posts. The varied and quality posts leads to interesting discussions in the comments' section. MFT is a great blog that mixes intellectual betterment and entertainment.

3) Trans-Pacific Radio: As the name implies, TPR is more a series of podcasts than a blog, but it deserves a spot in my links as a very good source of Japanese political analysis. TPR features a number of podcasts that cover topics likes Japanese politics, Japanese business news, and some Tokyo Yakult Swallows-centric baseball coverage. TPR's flagship podcast (i.e. the one that is most often updated) is it's Japanese politics program Seijigiri. In Seijigiri, political issues facing Japan are discussed by Garrett DeOrio and Ken Worsley (whom I met at the aforementioned blogger meetup), two Tokyo based professionals. The two of them discuss issues in a very laid back and relaxed manner, giving each other the opportunity to use each other as a sounding board to further explore their own (obviously) well informed thoughts. A very entertaining and informative listen. As far as I can tell Seijigiri is the only podcast in either Japanese or English that provides a high level of analysis with a laid back tone.

4) Observing Japan: This blog is the work of Tobias Harris, a self-described fledgling Japan/East Asia specialist. He's not that much older than myself, has studied and worked in Japan, and is currently doing his PhD studies at MIT. I had a chance to meet Tobias at the Tokyo blogger meetup and was struck by his charismatic personality and the depth of his knowledge. He is currently updating like a madman, writing great pieces about the upcoming election. Observing Japan offers a much denser analysis of Japanese politics than TPR, but if that kind of thing rocks your boat it's a must read.

5) néojaponisme: I'm not entirely sure how to describe néojaponisme. I think néojaponisme may be best described, not as a blog, but as a cultural project. A read through the néojaponisme manifesto may give you an idea of what this site is all about. néojaponisme posts cover all sorts of topics related to Japanese culture, including literature, music, typography, the internet, pop culture, and a lot more. I'll be perfectly honest, a good portion of néojaponisme goes right over my head, but the articles that do interest me are extremely well researched and written and are on topics not covered elsewhere. néojaponisme also has podcasts that collect and explore Japanese indie music. More recently, a number of podcasts have been posted which are recordings of néojaponisme founder and chief-editor W. David Marx (a.k.a. Marxy) talking about things in Japan with other knowledgeable people. The most recent podcast features the Marxy and the previously mentioned Tobias Harris talking at a Hanbey, and includes great discussion all within a backdrop of busy Izakaya sounds. From these podcasts, and his writings, it's quite clear that Marxy is a very smart guy, which leads us to the last blog on this list...

6) clast: clast is a "consumer and media insight blog" available in both Japanese and English run by the Diamond Agency. The blog entries which are seldom updated are written by Marxy and Jeff Lippold. While the entries are few and far between, what is written is great insight into Japanese consumer culture and the media. clast will give you insight in the why Japanese products are the way they are, and gives greater context than those dime-a-dozen "look at this crazy shit from Japan!" blogs. Great stuff, clast would probably be my favorite blog if it was updated more often.

If you read through the archives of the above blogs, you will quickly realize that there is a fair amount of cross-pollination between these blogs, and that many of these blogs will lead you to other blogs and news sources. I do read many other things beyond these blogs, but these blogs are probably a decent starting point in building a more nuanced and sophisticated view of Japan. If anyone has other suggestions please don't hesitate to drop me a line.
Ohta Kouzou
明日から10日間ほど九州に行ってきます。明日の朝、羽田から福岡に飛んで、それから大分の中津江村でおこなわれている子ども村に行ってきます。一昨年作った風呂と小屋がどう進化しているかを見るのを楽しみにしています。子ども村には6日間いてから、Sagas in Sagaでおなじみのマイケルの家に3泊します。それで、7日の夕方にに福岡から夜行バスに乗って東京に帰ります。色々楽しみにしています。しばらく連絡がとぎれるかもしれません。

I'm going off to Kyushu for 10 days starting tomorrow. I'm getting on a flight for Fukuoka from Haneda tomorrow morning, and I'm heading back to the Kodomo-mura camp in Nakatsue village in Oita. I'm looking forward to seeing how the bath and cabin we built 2 years ago has evolved. After 6 days in Kodomo-mura, I'm going to be staying 3 nights with Michael of Sagas in Saga fame. Then, it's back to Tokyo Friday evening from Fukuoka on the night bus. I'm lookng forward to everything that awaits me during this trip. I may be incommunicado for a while though.
Wednesday July 22nd, 2009 18:47 - J-to-E #10 - God Hates Japan 2
Ohta Kouzou
Michael, over at Sagas of Saga, posted another installment of God Hates Japan, so I did a translation just to get back into the habit.

It was perfectly good place. I mean, Saitama isn't exactly the Congo. The fact that they had abandoned this world and its inhabitants was humiliating. My friend Tetsu couldn't seem to believe it either, and he told me a story he heard about the Mormons. I don't know what to call him, either the parish priest or the father, gathered all the young boys in a room, once a month, to preach on the evils of masturbation. He'd give all the boys a special pen with invisible ink, and a piece of paper and made them all draw a mark the size of a big coin for each time they masturbated in the last month. He'd collect all the papers, post the papers on the wall using pins, and dim the lights. Then, the room would be covered in stars. It actually sounded like a beautiful scene. Anyway, the priest would call this "the world of sin," or some such thing, and told the young Mormons that their mission for next month was to make all the stars disappear.

Obviously Tetsu and I were curious as to how the female version of this lesson went, but all we could do was imagine.


What, me? I was born in 1975, just north of Tokyo. My only sibling is my sister Mariko, born in 1970, but her sensibilities were so far from mine that sometime I thought she must have been born in 1955.

If you asked her what kind of person she thought she was, the first thing she'd mention would be how she owned every product made by (the fashion brand) Burberry. If Burberry made tampons, Mariko would definitely have bought them. When she was young, the thing she was most into was a cheap copy band of the 80's group Duran Duran, made up of foreigners. Even now, she goes out every Monday to Harajuku to remember the days she danced in front of the gymnasium in full rockabilly gear. How embarrassing. It really is the worst. The greatest fights we had occurred after I drew boobs and fangs on the covers her precious concert pamphlets from 1982 to 1986.

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Saturday July 18th, 2009 14:41 - It's been One Week...
Ohta Kouzou
"...since you looked at me. Cocked your head to the side and said I'm angry."

Or more accurately, it's been one week since I landed at Narita Airport, sailed through customs, and made my way to my uncle's house in Kunitachi. In this last week I've spent a lot of time running around government offices, banks, and various stores. All in an effort to receive the privileges afforded to me as a Japanese citizen, get some money to finance this adventure until I find myself a proper job, and to get random things I needed (most notably a cell phone, and things to store my clothes). I also joined the Hitotsubashi Debating Society for dinner and a couple of practices. This is the first time in my 11 year debating career that I've debated outside of Canada. (You can take the Canada out of the Canadian debater, but not the debating.) A good group of "kids" that I think I can help compete for a shot at the EFL break at Koç. (If anyone from the HDS is reading this... 一緒に頑張ろう!) Should be good times. I've also already managed to hit up 5 ramen shops in my 7 days. I think I'll be slowing down the pace if only for the health of my wallet. I've also already had dinner with some interesting people who were able to give me guidance on my job search. We'll see what this next week will bring, hopefully not more heat. Sweating while doing nothing is not very pleasant. Until next time!
Monday July 6th, 2009 0:12 - On 5 Years of Hammer and Steel
Ohta Kouzou
I've been meaning to write some thoughts on my time in Hamilton/Ontario but I haven't been able to come up with a good way to write what I feel. I started writing this post right after I got back but I neglected the post for a while now. What follows is an off-the-cuff attempt to summarize my feelings. After 5 years of good times, I finally bid adieu to Hamilton. My 5 years in Hamilton, and by extension Ontario, were great and afforded me many different opportunities that I would probably not have had if I had stayed in Montreal. Living in Ontario gave me the opportunity to see just how different Quebec was to the rest of the country. While many of these differences are obvious and were not unknown to me, actually living them gave me greater perspective into the diversity of this great land we call Canada. While there are differences between all provinces I feel (perhaps incorrectly) that being in Ontario gave me greater insight into English Canada than I would've gotten if i had stayed in Montreal.

Hamilton as a city was big enough that it had all the modern amenities I needed to go about my simple life without a car, and had reliable enough transport to Toronto for everything else. McMaster University nestled in the westend of Hamilton resides in a quiet residential area of town, and has a closed campus that combined old and new. While it certainly had its issues, particularly in regards to funding the humanities and clubs like debating, given that most (if not all) Canadian universities have problems I can't really say I got a bad deal in my undergrad education. I took some interesting classes, met interesting people, and enjoyed the numerous amenities the university had to offer. I'm also quite sure that McMaster's insistance that I take the common first year Engineering course load (rather than accept my CEGEP credit), is a key factor that allowed me to switch into the Humanities. Had I stayed in Quebec, I may not have had the opportunity to reflect as much on my priorities, and I might have toughed out an Engineering degree, or have made the switch only after spoiling my transcript.

Of course, being in Ontario let me be a part of a much more diverse and complicated high school debating scene. If I had stayed in Montreal, I probably would have made more money coaching private school debaters, but I probably wouldn't have had a hand in really expanding debate to new schools. Ontario's regionally diverse of debating scene gave me insights on how to appreciate differences in styles and philosophies, and gave me insights on how to work with others with differing views in order to accomplish the goal of furthering debate in high schools. In Hamilton, I found myself coordinating a public school based debating scene that lacked a common vision. But I was close enough to Toronto that I was asked to Tab two National HS events held in Toronto during my time at Mac. Of course, being an OSDU representative took me to various parts of the province for the annual Championships (formerly the Seminar). I've been to places a regular university debater wouldn't have necessarily seen. I made a great number of friends from all parts of the province from all kinds of backgrounds with debating being the only common denominator. Also, being at Mac allowed me to bypass the competitive qualification procedures I would have faced had I attended McGill, and let me go to UBC Worlds. I am convinced that these valuable debate experiences happened because I ended up in Hamilton. I hope to take these experiences with me and apply them in Japan.

Finally, living in Hamilton meant living on my own for 5 years, not under the direct supervision of my parents. Prior to my second year, I moved into a house for the first time in my life. I cooked my own meals, did my own laundry. and otherwise made all my own life decisions. While I summarize this point in a few sentences this independence and freedom contributed to the above mentioned opportunities. So at the end of the day I have no major regrets about choosing to go to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. That doesn't necessarily mean that I unconditionally recommend Mac to everyone, but it worked for me.
Tuesday June 9th, 2009 1:21 - Short Life Update
Ohta Kouzou
Sorry for the lack of updates, my life has become quite hectic over the last couple of weeks and I've been too busy to invest the necessary time and energy into translating stuff. In 14 days I'll be saying goodbye to Hamilton, my home for the last 5 years. 17 days later I will be waving goodbye to Canada, the country that I've called home all my life. I will be heading off to Japan, land of my ancestors, to find work and live on my own for a couple of years. While my current plan is to return to Canada in a few years, I plan on calling Japan home for a while. I will be heading back to Montreal on June 23rd, and off to Japan on July 10. Each time I will be taking less luggage with me. Right now I am in the process of whittling down my possessions to an amount that will fit into a 2009 Honda Civic. I'm getting rid of my bike, a lot of my books, old clothes, all my fancy kitchenware, and all sorts of other odds and ends that I've accumulated over the last 5 years. The next month is looking to become the beginning of a wild ride, and I hope to write a few reflective pieces as I get a chance to look back at myself. The translations will continue eventually, but I won't be sticking to a regular schedule for the time being. Cheers!
Saturday May 23rd, 2009 2:30 - Time of My Life
my back
As my threats to move to Japan are finally coming to fruition (details to be released soon), I began to wonder about how much of my life I've spent in Japan. By my best estimation I've probably spent a cumulative 2.5-3 years in Japan, split up over 12-15 separate visits. The longest stay was the year I spent as 3 year old. and the shortest was probably my last brief New Year's visit of a little over 2 weeks. So I've probably spent 10% of my life physically in Japan. I'm not quite sure if this is a lot or not, but given how spread out the visits were I guess I'm surprised they added up to years (excluding the one year stay as a very young child).

This little thought exercise made me go back and track my movement over the last couple of years (2007 to 2009) to track my movement and to see what kind of utterly useless data I can come up with. Thanks to meticulous record keeping on my computer I was able to accurately retrace my movement for the years 2007-2009. I probably could've gone back further, but there was a a limit to my motivation to email dive. Over this time period, I've traveled extensively within Ontario, mainly for debating-related purposes, but for this "study" I looked at my movement across provincial and national borders only. For dates where I traveled from one location from another the destination got credit for the date. I've counted from January 1, 2007 to May 23, 2009. Now here's some data :

Total dates spent in:
Ontario: 717 days over 8 stays (82.0%)
Japan: 74 days over 2 stays (8.5%)
Quebec: 73 days over 6 stays (8.4%)
Alberta: 4 days over 1 stay (0.5%)
British Columbia: 3 days over 1 stay (0.3 %)
Nova Scotia: 3 days over 1 stay (0.3%)

Longest Stay
159 consecutive days spent in Ontario in 2008
(Will be broken by my current stay in Ontario if I stay until June 14)

Shortest Stay
2 consecutive days spent in Quebec in 2007

Most Trips Taken in a Year A trip is considered the number of times I've crossed a Provincial or National border.
10 in 2007

Least Number of Trips taken in a Year
1 in 2009 (So far)

I should note that the stay in BC is actually longer, because it straddled the 2006/2007 changeover. It's somewhat surprising that I've actually spent more time in Japan than I have in Quebec over the time span. Although the fact that I travelled around Japan and Quebec basically equals Montreal is probably what is coloring my perceptions. Another thing I remembered while going over my travels, is the fact that I've spent New Years Day in completely different places every year over this span, and never in Ontario. By my estimation, if a were to rank the top 5 places I've stayed in in my life, by the number of days spent, it would probably end up being Quebec, Ontario, Japan, New York State, and New Brunswick. It'll be interesting to see how this list wil change over my lifetime.

All this shows, is that I'll be somewhat ready to fill out a detailed background check, the kind where you have to account for every moment of your life.
Friday May 8th, 2009 20:50 - The Official Aso Speech Translation
Ohta Kouzou
Those of you who bothered to read my last translation, may be interested in reading the "official" translation from the Prime Minister's office. This version cuts out a lot of the extraneous stuff, like the audience questions, that were found in the Japanese version.

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Ohta Kouzou
Yet another story that would be funny if it wasn't true. I briefly thought about translating this article, but I figure there's something better out there for this week.

US Senator: AIG execs should consider suicide

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A prominent US Senator has suggested that top executives of the bailed-out insurer AIG ought to quit or kill themselves, which he described as the Japanese model of honorably taking responsibility.

Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told a radio station in his home state of Iowa that the insurance giant's shamed leaders had stoked public anger with lavish bonuses.

"The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them [is] if they would follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I'm sorry and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide," Grassley told WMT radio.

"In the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology," he said after AIG awarded some 165 million dollars in bonuses -- going largely to the same London-based traders who brought ruin to the firm.

American International Group has received 180 billion dollars in rescue funding from taxpayers, but a backlash has grown amid reports of lavish parties and, now, bonuses.

"The attitude of these corporate executives and bank executives, and most of them are in New York, that somehow they're not responsible for their company going into the tank," Grassley said.

"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," he said.

AIG was deemed to be too big to fail, given the complex ties it built with financial institutions worldwide through so-called credit default swaps linked to the tanking property market.
Tuesday March 17th, 2009 14:55 - 英和翻訳 #5 - 神なるオオカミ
hello moose
My good friend Michael did his own translation of this piece on his blog. Since I haven't really tackled fiction before, I decided to do my own.




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bouncing dots
Suicides (in Japan) remained above 30,000 last year. Number increased by 86 people to 1726 in Hokkaido.

It was reported on the 5th that the number of suicides committed nationally last year will be above 30,000 people, making the number consistant with the previous year. The number was derived by Kyodo News by compiling provisional numbers provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and the Prefectural Police Departments. The National Police Agency's total suicide numbers have remained above 30,000 people since 1998. The lastest numbers will make it 11 straight years that the number of suicides committed nationally has been above 30,000 people.

While the effects of the recession that began last fall cannot be seen in the numbers, officials believe that the numbers will rise because "it can take a number of months before the lives of the unemployed become difficult." in 2007 the government laid out an "Outline of Comprehensive Anti-Suicide Measures," which aimed to lower the suicide rate (suicides per 100,000 people per year) by over 20% in 10 years. The government will likely will be forced to further strengthen its measures in order to meet that goal.

On the same day, the National Police Agency announced that 2645 people committed suicide in January. This marks the first time the National Police Agency has announced monthly statistics on suicide. The National Police Agency hopes that the increased availability of suicide statistics, in accordance with the ”Outline," will help plan suicide prevention measures. Compared to the previous January, the number of suicides rose by 340 people, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's population movement statistics.

According to the numbers compiled by Kyodo News, there were approximately 32,000 suicides last year. The official number, to be announced by the National Police Agency, is expected to be slightly higher. In the end, it is expected to be similar to the previous year's number at approximately 33,000 suicides.

According to the regional numbers, suicides in Hokkaido increased by 86 people for a total of 1726 suicides. Suicides in Nagano prefecture also increased by over 80 people. On the other hand, suicides decreased by approximately 120 people in Hyogo Prefecture, and over 100 people in Ibaragi Prefecture.

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