A while back, here if you're interested, I wrote about the (then) new Japanese PM Yukio Hatoyama and is election victory. It was important, I seem to recall, as it meant an end to the almost uninterrupted post-war LDP monopoly of nice offices in Kasumigaseki (or whatever the Japanese equivalent to Whitehall is - I think it's there, I went there once and I think the Guru told me that's what went on in the office buildings...I digress). I might even have attempted a spurious resonance with the elecetion of Barak Obama as they both came from left field, upset long standing cartels (middle aged white men in Obama's case, now the whitehouse as a middle-aged nearly white man at the helm) and were meant to be all about change.
So, a year or so on Obama has done his healthcare thing, turned America in socialist/fascist/communist/progressive wasteland/utopia/same as it ever was, whilst also reducing nuclear weapons stocks, playing basketball in his back garden and doing some other stuff as well.
Well done there.
The big question, therefore, is what monumental changes to the very fabric of Japanese society has Yukio wrought in his term of office so far (which, to be fair, is just under a year as he was elected in May 2009)?
No, I can't think of any either. He's talked a lot about the relocation of the US Airforce base in Okinawa (but not actually done anything about it). He's talked a lot about the state of the Japanese economy (but not actually done anything about it). He's talked a lot about letting foreign permanent residents in Japan vote in local elections (but not actually done anything about it). He's talked a lot about members of his cabinet and party being found out for taking sizeable undisclosed donantions of a political nature (but not actually done anything to stop it). Made some firm commitments to carry on talking about the relocation of the US Airforce base in Okinawa (and been good to his word).
He has worn a couple of very nasty shirts that should have been banned by the Geneva Convention, like this one:
and another but I can't find a picture of it; it was even more alarming.
OK, I admit it, I thought that with Hatoyama it would be a bit of a change - I mean he was coming after Silent Shinzo Abe and that Fuckwit Fukuda so he couldn't have had an easier 'in' to the big chair - but things just haven't materialised. There were promises to end corruption that have spectacularly failed thanks to members of his own party; promises to curb the pork-barrel spending projects of the provinces, things like dams and concreting over rivers, but nothing much has stopped or changed. The amukudari are still floating down from heaven.
Oh, hang on, he did promise to increase child allowances and from June I think we do get an extra 8,000yen a month for the youngster, so we can add one tick to the credit column.
But it was not meant ot be like this, a return to the old ways with a PM from a party who didn't have any old ways. He shouldn't have known what the old ways were, let alone how to get to them. Maybe I, like a lot of other people, were getting a little bit too carried away with his 'fresh-faced new change' thing to actually listen to what he was saying at the time, which probably wasn't very much. Maybe more should have been made of the fact that he is very old-school politician (which inevitably means conserative, with or without the big 'c') as his grandfather was PM and founded the LDP and his father was foreign minister.
But he wasn't meant to be LDP, he was meant to be different. He told us he was. New broom. Fresh start. Not like those other old farts. But it's been; No broom. Fresh scandals. Same as it ever was. And bad shirts.
You have to wonder why. I'm sure that when he got the top job he did want to make a difference, but at this rate he will go down as one of the most rubbish/least effective PMs in postwar Japan (and as you can imagein, that's up against some pretty stiff opposition). His cabinet approval rating has gone from over 70% at election time to just 33% now - that despite not doing anything, or maybe because he hasn't done anything... now I'm getting deja vu - I wrote almost exactly the same as this after the Kool Kid had gone and we had whoever came after him...
Oh no! Maybe it's Japan that turns you into a caricature of yourself, rehashing the same-old same-old and never coming up with anything new. Oh my god! I'm becomming a Japanese politician!