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.

(Sep. 11, 2011)
Comments
  1. […] When he will die, it could be a signal for the Japanese Self-Defense Force to start a coup (Cf. Risk Of Coup In Japan? in […]

  2. Bob says:

    Japan is already a Fascist state in disguise, no need for a coup, the government , yakuza and big business are all in bed together and the people are clueless as to the shit that goes on…. Its all disguised in liberalism and democracy, couldnt be further from the truth, its a joke…….Just look at the way all foreigners including long term foreigners are fingerprinted at the airports under the banner “we are trying to stop terrorists coming into the country” foreigners = terrorists in thier minds…. Also look at the way foreigners are regularly stopped and ID checked walking down the street… Its very right wing already

    • Expats cannot help but notice this discrimination but on the other hand, when you travel to some other Asian countries (Singapore, Malaysia, China, Burma, Thailand… and even South Korea that was a dictature between 1961 and 1987) and in to the US, human rights do not strike as being a priority. However, the situation has changed in Japan as, as you mentioned, control used to focus on foreigners, but now the Japanese population itself is under enhanced surveillance including in airports where some subtle changes affect Japanese nationals. Women protests in Tokyo are severely crushed by the Japanese police working hand in hand with far-right activists / yakuza. Although the block policeman is usually a friendly, English-style “Bobby”, there have been reports of some verbal abuse and intimidation upon mothers checking radiation in their kids playground sand. The police force is showing some signs of uneasiness and overreaction to anyone suspect, from foreigners to citizens aware of the nuclear threat and not willing to eat their radioactive soup. It is quite understandable, as you can imagine the utter chaos which would result in a 20 million-strong panic in Tokyo alone if suddenly everyone woke up and acknowledged that supermarkets are just low-level nuclear waste repositories.

      I would hate Japan to be controlled by the military again but from their perspective, there would be a lot to gain from a coup: kick out the Americans of the country; amend the constitution in order to allow attack not only defense; put all the pieces together from JAXA, MHI and nuclear industry to quickly get a nuclear ballistic weapon; enforce a zero-tolerance policy against territorial invasions by Chinese in Senkaku islands, Russians in Kuril islands and South Korean in Takeshima, Tsushima, etc. islands; retaliate fearlessly against North Korean abductions; revive the economy with useless and dangerous programs (think DARPA here; Japanese Self-Defense Force is already a major Toyota, MHI, Hitachi and Toshiba customer; further advanced surveillance would benefit the electronics industry); finish off the “free press” and abolish all news about the nuclear spread in food and environment (a great help to the agribusiness); enforce higher protectionism and refuse US-dictated TPP; stop wealthiest Japanese exodus to Singapore, etc.; get rid of unemployed foreigners; restore the Emperor as a living god and get ready for a vengeful war to restore the place of Japan where militaries think it belongs above nations. JSDF flag is still the far-right Japanese emblem that you can see in Karate Kid movies… As you can see, from their perspective, there is a need for a coup and it’s only a matter of time. If Emperor Akihito dies from his “bronchitis” – more likely a lung affliction caused by his touring Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures and perhaps even the radioactive air pollution in Tokyo, it could be a pretext for them to act. I doubt that the militaries take kindly that Crown Prince Naruhito married with a commoner who is constantly abused for not producing a male heir (her daughter Aiko, Princess Toshi, is equally bullied at her school which offers no protection, probably because she is not a boy, and besides she is also sick with “pneumonia”). On everyday life basis, as you pointed out, there might not be a lot of perceived change – at least not immediately – but some foreign populations could suffer early on (Brazilians, Filipinos, Iranians, etc.).

      Excerpt from Wikipedia : History of South Korea

      In 1960, 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.
      The years after Park’s assassination were marked again by political turmoil, as the previously repressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1979 there was Coup d’état of December Twelfth by General Chun Doo-hwan. After the Coup d’état, Chun Doo-hwan planned to rise to power with several measures. On May 17, Chun Doo-hwan forced the Cabinet to expand martial law to the whole nation, which had previously not applied to Jeju-do. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. Chun assumed the presidency by the event of May 17, triggering nationwide protests demanding democracy, in particular in the city of Gwangju, where Chun sent special forces to violently suppress the Gwangju Democratization Movement.
      Chun subsequently created the National Defense Emergency Policy Committee and took the presidency according to his political plan. Chun and his government held Korea under a despotic rule until 1987, when a Seoul National University student, Park Jong-chul, was tortured to death. On 10 June, the Catholic Priests Association for Justice revealed the incident, igniting huge demonstrations around the country. Eventually, Chun’s party, the Democratic Justice Party, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo announced the 6.29 Declaration, which included the direct election of the president. Roh went on to win the election by a narrow margin against the two main opposition leaders, Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Young-Sam.

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