Japan goverment showed before the nuclear crisis that it failed to jumpstart the economy and since March 11, the country operates as if nobody was in charge. As the situation worsens in spite of the official optimistic tone, unrest develops with heavy-handed crackdown on protesters in Tokyo. Censorship affects newspapers and social media and blogs hosted in Japan. Public opinion is reportedly massively favorable towards the Japanese army deceptively called the Self-Defense Forces, who provide their help on the field in Tohoku as well as in Wakayama hit hard by the typhoon Talas. A recent Yomiuri Shimbun article reproduced below mentions that : “Although 82 percent of respondents said the Self-Defense Forces had performed well in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, just 6 percent felt the government had done a good job–and only 3 percent said the Diet had done so.”
The public high opinion of the omnipresence of the JSDF, the ramp-up in anti-riot deployment, censorship and the lack of political leadership in an economically damaged country whose nuclear outlook is negative could unfortunately prove to be the perfect environment for a coup d’état. Japan national pride has been repeatedly damaged recently, from the loss of the worldwide leadership in the car industry, the drop out of all Japanese companies from the Forbes 50 Asia, the continuous slide of Japan ranking in the Global Innovation Index, the inability to firmly defend its proclaimed sovereignty in Senkaku islands against the Chinese presence, similar issues with Russia in the Kuril islands, the incapacity of getting rid of American army bases in Okinawa and elsewhere, the failure of Kyoto protocole, the undeserved international image it feels it has over its whaling activities, the frustration of not being a nuclear power and be free to participate in more aggressive operations overseas, etc. Japan is a conservative country which longs for the bright future it lost when the war was lost.
In 1960 South Korea, a student uprising (the “4.19 Revolution”) led to the resignation of the autocratic President Syngman Rhee. A period of political instability followed, broken by General Park Chung-Hee’s military coup (the “5.16 coup d’état“) against the weak and ineffectual government the next year. Park took over as president until his assassination in 1979, overseeing rapid export-led economic growth as well as severe political repression. Park was heavily criticised as a ruthless military dictator, although the Korean economy developed significantly during his tenure.
Japan is undergoing a similar situation and the economic success of the South Korean Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, oriented towards exports like current Japan, could be a tempting model for the JSDF. Besides, South Korea continue to economically fares much better than Japan. In Asia, dictatorships and iron-hand democracies are common and some prove economically successful, for instance China, Singapore, South Korea and if you know the country well beyond its friendly international image, Japan. Asian countries share confucean values of order, social harmony and surrender to elders’ authority which are perfectly suited to host a dictature which we hope Japan will not host.
The risk for expats, should this be unfortunately the case, seems minimum and comparable to working in countries such as Singapore or China.
Although the Yomiuri Shimbun article title is about the fear of a new earthquake, it moves quickly to topics regurlarly found in SurvivalJapan posts and shows that Japanese people are aware of these risks – with the shouting exception of food, which may not have been a specific choice answer in the poll.
The Yomiuri Shimbun article is reproduced hereafter :
78% of people worry about future big quake
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nearly 80 percent of Japanese worry that a major earthquake could occur in the area they live–the highest figure since 2002–and only 3 percent believe the Diet has done a good job handling the March 11 disaster, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they are concerned radioactive substances that leaked from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant could harm the health of themselves and their families, according to the survey, which was conducted Sept. 3 and 4.
The proportion of people worried about radioactive materials harming their health was highest in the Tohoku and Kanto regions at 76 percent. The figure was 51 percent in the Chugoku region and Shikoku, and 59 percent in Kyushu.
Although 82 percent of respondents said the Self-Defense Forces had performed well in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, just 6 percent felt the government had done a good job–and only 3 percent said the Diet had done so.
This suggests the public was unhappy with the confrontation between ruling and opposition parties that hindered government efforts to provide assistance and start rebuilding after the disaster.
Seventy-three percent were impressed with the efforts of volunteers, 52 percent with firefighters, 42 percent with local governments in devastated areas, and 40 percent with the police. Multiple answers were allowed to this question.
When asked what worried them most about the earthquake and the nuclear accident, 68 percent of respondents said “the spread of radioactive material,” followed by “a downturn in the economy” at 51 percent, “the deteriorating employment situation” at 34 percent and “electricity shortages” at 33 percent.
The survey also revealed that many people have reaffirmed the importance of ties with close relatives and friends since the disaster. This tendency was especially evident among women.
Fifty-six percent of respondents said they increasingly valued their relationships with their families. The figure was 61 percent for women and 50 percent for men.
The survey was conducted on 3,000 eligible voters randomly chosen nationwide, with 1,673, or 56 percent, giving valid responses.