• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post


    The Asahi ran a story yesterday that concludes that Japan’s “lost generation” (those who came of age in the years following the bursting of the Bubble) is showing itself ready to assume the role in politics it’s been avoiding. Based on the people profiled, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing:

    After she graduated from university in 1998, Yamamoto decided she wanted no part in “mass consumer society.” Instead, she rented a 20-hectare farm in Niigata Prefecture and set about making a living through organic farming.

    She barely managed and had to supplement her income by working part-time as a waitress at a nearby onsen. After two years, she gave up the farm and her job to volunteer her time and energy to local nonprofit activities.

    She started by joining protests against the planned construction of a nuclear plant in the village of Maki. In 2003, she joined the village assembly. During this period, Yamamoto occasionally found odd jobs which paid little more than 200,000 yen a year.

    While campaigning in a shopping district in downtown Niigata on July 15, Yamamoto emphasized that she understands what it’s like to be young and poor.

    As part of her campaign platform she pledges to correct the income and benefit disparity between full-time and part-time workers.

    There’s a certain droll logic to the idea that becoming a politician is the obvious next step for someone who’s spent her adult life avoiding work that has market value and generates wealth. However, being newly engaged with the political system is not the same as having learned anything useful about policy. There’s young and poor because you can’t find any steady work, and then there’s young and poor because you turn up your nose at the possibility of working in “mass consumer society.”

    Promising to “correct” disparities implies that it’s a good idea for the government to continue the Japan Inc.-era practice of knob-twiddling with prices and wages–exactly the sort of behavior that helped the Bubble to inflate and burst in the first place. Perhaps, despite her overall failure as a farmer, Yamamoto managed to grow a money tree that she can use to make up the difference between freeters’ value to the economy and what she thinks they should be paid. If not, the major problems remain bureaucratic drag and the contraction of the population, neither of which is addressed by the Diet hopefuls quoted by the Asahi.

    5 Responses to “Productivity”

    1. Jun'ichiro says:

      This is because Asahi is a newspaper just tells emotional agitation. It may not a newspaper actually but an advatising of left anachronism which just tells only social illness without solution.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      [It’s probably useful to point out here for other readers that Jun’ichiro and I have known each other for ages. He’s one of my few Japanese friends who can make me look like a softy-ass leftist.]

      Okay, Jun’ichiro, point taken. I don’t think the Asahi reports straight news stories with much more spin than any of the other dailies do, but its leftist orientation does definitely come out in its editorials and features and things.

      That said, according to the article, there are only twenty-two candidates standing for the election who are under thirty-five years old. Of those, the Asahi seems to have found five–close to 25% of the total–who want to get into the Diet in order to realize their collectivist economic fantasies. Now, it’s possible that the seventeen candidates who weren’t profiled there are all Nikkei-style proponents of market liberalization, but I’m guessing they’re more likely to be climb-the-escalator status-quo types.

    3. Jun'ichiro says:

      Am I really such a figure ? 😉 I just pointed out their inclination. Well, not to mention that the candidates need the quality to run for the election. I don’t think 22 candidates who are under 35 years old (out of 377 candidates) are enough. But the age to be a candidate in upper house is 30 years old or older. Thinking about this restriction, the number is not so high, but it is moderate. I think Asahi might report the number as political apathy of younger people without explaining background.

    4. Jun'ichiro says:

      Sorry pls delete the comment above (and this). The comment didn’t catch the points of the article. I should have focused on the quality of candidates…

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      I’ll delete those two comments if you like, Jun, but I think the point is actually good to bear in mind. Considering candidates “under 35″ means a range of only five years, so a relatively low number doesn’t necessarily say much about apathy. (Even so, the point I was making was less about the real number than about the proportion.)

    Leave a Reply