Monday, July 14, 2014

Shiga voters respond to "reinterpretation" of the Japanese Peace Constitution by electing Taizo Mikazuki as new governor

Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada congratulates her successor, Taizo Mikazuki.

Eric Johnston reports on the first electoral check of constitutional "reinterpretation" in "LDP Candidate flounders in Shiga governor race," published at JT today.
In a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling coalition, Shiga voters chose as their next governor Taizo Mikazuki, the designated successor to Yukiko Kada, over a candidate heavily backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.

The election was the first voter test of the ruling coalition’s decision to reinterpret collective self-defense, as well as the Liberal Democratic Party’s credibility after one of its Tokyo assembly members insulted a female politician...
 Support for Mikazuki, a former Lower House member from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), came from the grassroots: small-business owners, farmers,  environmentalists, nuclear-free advocates, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the DPJ.

Mikazuki's election reflects a growing political mobilization of Japanese people outside of Japan Inc. to save what's left of postwar Japan's pacifist, middle-class society and to get rid of the nation's greatest threat to lives and well-being: nuclear power plants.  The administration favors international finance, construction, and nuclear industries to the detriment of Japan's mainstream.

Public debt-fueled quantitative easing has artificially boosted the stock market, resulting in quick profits for speculators. However, ordinary Japanese people are bearing the cost: the average standard of living in Japan is at its lowest point in three decades. The childhood poverty rate in Japan has climbed to 16%, under the current administration, the highest level recorded, since poverty surveys began in 1985. Over 16% of the entire population, 23.2% of people aged 65 and older, and 54.6% of single-parent households are suffering from poverty. On April 1, the Abe government raised the consumption tax, which disproportionately hurts the poor, from 5% to 10%; and wants to raise the consumption tax again, to 10% in 2015, if the GDP hits 3%. This is unlikely, as the GDP is now at 1.4%, and expected to decrease under Abenomics.

Behind the scenes, the government is pushing forward on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) corporate trade agreement, which would undermine what's left of already eroded protections for small farmers, workers, and consumers.

A majority in Japan opposes the restart of nuclear power plants. Moreover, they don't approve of taxpayer subsidization of nuclear power exports; nuclear-free advocacy groups in Japan are closely connected with overseas counterparts.  Mikazuki, like his predecessor, supports a phasing out of nuclear energy in Japan. He campaigned on the issue of Shiga having a larger say in the massive nuclear power complex in neighboring Fukui prefecture.

Known as “Gempatsu Ginza," (“Nuclear Alley”) four complexes containing 13 reactors are clustered along a 55-kilometer (35-mile) stretch of coast facing the Sea of Japan. On May 21, the Fukui District Court in a landmark ruling, decided that it will not allow the restart of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant.

Shiga residents are also concerned about expanded use of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force’s Aibano Training Area near the city of Takashima, on the western shore of Lake Biwa. The US military trained the accident-prone V-22 Osprey aircraft at low altitudes over residential and environmentally sensitive areas at Lake Biwa last year.

The Asahi reported on the protests on Oct. 7, 2013, Anti-Osprey protests spread to mainland where Japan-U.S. exercise planned :
About 1,000 demonstrators showed up Oct. 6 to denounce the inclusion of the U.S. military’s accident-prone MV-22 Osprey aircraft for the first time in joint Japan-U.S. drills to be held at a Self-Defense Forces training range here on the mainland...

“It is a lie (to claim) that the drills (here) will contribute to reducing the burden forced on Okinawa,” said Mitsunori Yoshioka, 67, one of the protesters who came here from Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, to participate. “I am afraid these exercises will only lead to the deployment of more Osprey across Japan.”
Shingetsu News reported that some analysts are suggesting that Mikazuki's victory may be a signal that New Komeito party members have stopped voting for LDP candidates. Last month, in defiance of its rank and file members, New Komeito, the LDP's coalition partner, approved the executive branch's unilateral "reinterpretation" of Article 9, the Peace Clause.

Residents of Kyoto prefecture (adjacent to both Shiga and Fukui prefectures) closely watched this election. 

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