Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba’s comments that street protesters voicing opposition to the new state secrets bill by shouting it in public demonstrations are doing something “not so fundamentally different from an act of terrorism” (“Secrets law protests ‘act of terrorism’: LDP No. 2,” Japan Times, Monday, December 2, 2013) confirms in my mind the direction that Japan’s conservative government is headed. That direction is to silence opposition by criminalizing criticism of the leadership. It will not only include journalistic and political opposition’s critique of government policy and behavior but comedic parody and satire as well, and also treatment of the state and government in the arts - letters, music, and graphic arts. It will come in the form of a bill mandating respect for the Prime Minister and his cabinet, or for the Emperor, the national anthem and the flag and other symbols of the state, and also symbols of the traditional culture like the Grand Ise Shrine or the Kamakura Daibutsu. Presumably Mr. Ishiba is calling loud street protests a kind of terrorism because he thinks such behavior is terrible the same way we think of a passenger on an enclosed subway train talking loudly on their smart phones contrary to polite etiquette, common sense and posted prohibitions are terrible. By framing opposition as a security matter anything at all can be outlawed. The government could regulate and even outlaw breathing if it so desired and could muster enough votes in the legislature.
We can turn the tables and say that the way the Liberal Democratic Party government rammed the bill through the Diet last week was an act of terrorism, because it’s terrible as are so many other policies and aims of this government and this party. Mr. Ishiba knows about terrorism because he’s a terrorist.
Of course, LDP spokesmen deny that the bill is intended or will be used to prosecute legitimate news reporting or legitimate quests for freedom of information, but one thing we are certain of is that Japanese politicians lie. It’s not that the government is losing our trust or risking losing our trust. The government never had our trust to begin with, only our tolerance.
Published on Thursday, December 5, 2013 as "Risk of losing public's 'tolerance.'"
Mr. Ishiba isn’t clear about the difference between nation and government, so he denounces anyone who aims a criticism of the government as a traitor or a terrorist. If we think of our country as our parents we might think of the government as a steward. Merely the steward of the moment. One cannot change one’s parents, but we can change the steward.