Monday, January 26, 2009

Aso Close to Bottom of Barrel

As Prime Minister Taro Aso's support plummets into the high teens in poll after poll, Bloomberg quotes Mr. Morita as saying, "The public feels that anybody can do a better job than Aso.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How the Government Should Act

What should the government be doing now? I've outlined the policies below. The policies I'm proposing here would be impossible for current Prime Minister Taro Aso to execute. They are in direct opposition to the policies of Democratic Party of Japan chief Ichiro Ozawa. Here are the emergency steps our politicians should be taking:

- Increase public spending and aggressively boost the monetary supply to counter the economic crisis and prevent bankruptcies.
- Aggressively convert Japan's financial policies to lower taxes and increase public works and social welfare spending.
- Introduce policies that push for full employment, then put real energy behind the effort with special emphasis on relief measures for the unemployed. Greatly increase the amount of public money used in this effort.
- Rebuild our social welfare system. The medical, nursing and pension systems have to be rebuilt after the structural revolution of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and its devotion to fiscal reconstruction left them in ruins. The medical system needs immediate attention.
- Increase grants to the provinces. Aim at reviving these regions, which were left moribund as a result of Koizumi's structural revolution.
- Aim to revive primary industries such as the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors by refocusing past policies that tended to ignore these vital sectors.
- Put more value on the environment by spending more public money on environmental preservation and regeneration.
- Put aside money to improve Japan's vital infrastructure — especially its ports and airports — to help trade, the circulation of goods and the country's reputation as a maritime state.
- Emphasize education. Switch from a centralized, bureaucratic model to one based on the creativity of the teachers.
- Focus on the wealth gap and emphasize egalitarian policies. Aim to eliminate the layer of working poor that has emerged.
- Don't participate in the war in Afghanistan. Be a nation of peace.

To execute these policies, we must take a different route than the ones recommended by Aso and Ozawa. To take that alternate route, we need to do three things: Overcome the influence of the neocons and market fundamentalism; extricate ourselves from the US-Japan alliance (where Japan follows the Americans' lead); come out against the Afghanistan war and confront those within the Liberal Democratic Party and the DPJ who continue to support the Americans on this.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Curing called "prophetic," "passionate"

The Jan. 1 issue of the Nichi Bei Times has an excellent review of Curing Japan's America Addiction by Sarah Yuen. It's not online, unfortunately, but here are a few snippets that give you the gist of what Ms. Yuen thinks:

Minoru Morita's commentary on Japan's current and historic relations with America is both prophetic and passionate ... Many of the statements he rattles off about politics ("It's about me-ism: take care of yourself and to hell with the rest") and the economy ("A sharp drop in consumption can potentially trigger panic," and "the widening wealth gap") parallel eerily the longstanding American conversation about our own economy and politics. When Morita goes into criticism of the Americans for "ruining" the education system and monopolizing the professional baseball leagues, the language is a bit strong ...

(The book) stays away from blustery stuffiness and (goes) into the heart of the issues as he sees it, in a way that should be relevant to both Japanese and Americans as the dawn of the post-Bush era begins.

For more on the Nichi Bei Times, check out its website.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Japan Should Live as a Peaceful Nation

Japan should be a realist among nations and forge a path based on light armaments, economic strength and peace. If it continues to project its power in Asia through a heavily armed military presence, Japan's safety will be difficult to maintain. Japan needs to hone its diplomatic skills to improve relations with its neighbors. It needs to be one with Asia, and to do this, Japan needs to forge a special friendship with China. Japan should have two important partners: China and the US.

The Obama administration is talking about a new era of cooperation among the US, Japan and China. Japan needs to get on board, and it needs to embrace its pacifistic role. It is extreme at best to think that if Japan isn't heavily armed it will live under the subordination of China. Japan can live peacefully with China by building a relationship based on mutual respect and equality and refusing to interfere in the other's internal matters.

Let me repeat: China is an important partner for Japan. Japan needs to emerge as a leader of the Asian community. This is the only path left for us.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Asian Gazette Calls Curing 'Explosive'

A recent blog post from foreign correspondent Joel J. Legendre praises Mr. Morita's first book in English, Curing Japan's America Addiction. He cites Mr. Morita's "courage" and calls the book "explosive."

PS This was posted by Bruce Rutledge of Chin Music Press, not Mr. Morita. If anyone has a clue how to change the name of the poster on these blogs, I'd appreciate the advice. We set up this blog to run Mr. Morita's commentary, but we also think it will be beneficial to link to what others are saying about him. And before you call me a Luddite for not being able to figure it out, I will say in my defense that I typed my senior thesis ("Alienation in The Nick Adams stories" or something like that) on an electric typewriter.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Overcoming a Great Depression

Happy new year, dear readers.

I would like to make this a year of transition from unhappiness to hope. Our unhappiness will not continue indefinitely, I believe. Just as good times are not meant to last forever, times of hardship must come to an end.

What's most important for people is to maintain a sense of vision and a cooperative, open attitude. If we want to revive Japan, we must reconnect with our traditional ways and our Japanese spirit of compassion. Family, company, region and country -- the whole populace needs to cherish these basic groups if we are going to overcome this national crisis.

The government has a vital role to play. It needs to give its all if we are to escape a great depression. The government must mobilize all its financial and monetary might.

I believe that the opposition should avoid contentiousness and confrontation on issues where cooperation will help Japan rebuild itself. I call on Japan's politicians to make extraordinary efforts to respond to the country's anxious state. The people of Japan need to look forward and vigorously maintain their morale. They need to have a strong, critical spirit that can stand up to the government and the bureaucracy.