Tokyo assembly election: Meet the candidates – Katsuhiro Suzuki


Katsuhiro Suzuki (51) – This first-time candidate has DPJ backing and is running on his status as a born-and-raised Adachi-ku resident and his achievements as a businessman. He has spent most of his career in the job training industry and is currently active as a member of the local DPJ’s policy committee.

After starting at Recruit and then “a consultant company,” in 1996 he became involved in the establishment of Nagase PC School, an IT-related job training operation that, in his words, specialized in turning part-timers and “NEETs” (people Not in Employment, Education, or Training) into full-time employees. After that experience he moved on to other job training businesses before entering politics. Former colleagues from Recruit and his job training businesses are advisors and managers of his political campaigns.

Policy: His policies nominally focus on furthering the mission of his private-sector experience (getting underutilized young people into the workforce) in the political field. But other than that external flavoring, he seems to propose throwing money at Tokyo’s problems just like everyone else.

Generally, he is very proud of his achievements in the private sector and believes those lessons apply to government. Though not part of his official campaign literature, his Livedoor blog features commentary on issues of the day and provides clues to his way of thinking. 

One of his most passionate blog posts comes from March 2009, in which he outlines why former executives like him belong in politics. He thinks politicians need “private sector skills” (民間力) defined as: creativity 創造力, the ability to be a producer プロデュース力 (meaning to put together and follow through on projects), the ability to know what’s happening on the ground 現場力, competitive strength 競争力, the ability to manage people マネジメント力, the ability to manage a business 経営力, and the ability to evaluate results 評価力.

Chances of winning: As a new and untested candidate he might have a tough time against several incumbents. From 2001 to 2005, the DPJ has picked up a seat from the LDP, moving the party standings in Adachi-ku from

  • LDP – 3
  • Komeito – 2
  • Communist – 1
  • DPJ – 0


  • LDP – 2
  • Komeito – 2
  • Communist – 1
  • DPJ – 1

With the polls behind the DPJ, Suzuki might have a chance to edge out another LDP candidate (I expect the Communists and Komeito have the votes to keep their people in power). However, the election in Adachi-ku is more competitive than usual, contrary to the prefecture-wide trend. There were 7 candidates in 2001, 8 in 2005, and this year there are 10. On top of that all the incumbents except are running again, save for the Communists. If the vote splits among new candidates Suzuki might be in trouble.

A touch of humanity:  He once headed his local PTA and claims to have had a dual-income household with his wife for the past 20 years, but that is all he is apparently willing to tell us about his personal life.

I went through this guy’s entire blog to try and find something truly interesting, and the closest I could come up with was that rant about how awesome corporate executives are. But I have a theory for why this is so: he spends all day every day speechifying in front of Ayase station. As his blog will back up, he seems to always be either in Kitasenju or Ayase station speaking into a microphone about how badly he wants to represent Adachi-ku. For months now I have seen him outside Ayase Station.

One reason I have trouble supporting this guy is he apparently forces his interns to wear uncomfortable-looking business suits:

uncomfortable 542e7c1db7e59b1208e8-1024


And for good measure here’s one of Suzuki and Ren Ho (taken at a Rengo-affiliated local union meeting):

Ren Ho

End Hanification! Remembering Urumqi circa 2003

Comments are closed, please join the discussion on this post here.

China Protest
A Han Chinese man carries a spiked steel bar while using his cell phone to take photos as he joins a mob of Han Chinese men attacking Uighur properties in Urumqi. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Starting on the evening of July 5th, riots erupted in Urumqi when Uyghur rioters looted Han Chinese businesses and killed and injured hundreds of Han Chinese. This was followed by a tough police crackdown, which has been followed in turn by Han Chinese revenge violence against Uyghurs.

That this type of event has occurred doesn’t surprise me. I’m sorry to say that the only surprise is that this took so long.

Continue reading End Hanification! Remembering Urumqi circa 2003

Tokyo assembly election: Meet the candidates – Satoru Onishi

(Corrected below)

July 3 marked the start of the Tokyo prefectural assembly election. The sound trucks are out in force:

From Tokyo Prefectural Assembly Election

Hype over the election on the news is almost exclusively focused on whether it will be perceived as an LDP loss. The LDP-Komeito coalition currently controls the assembly in a rough equivalent of the current Lower House situation, so failure for the LDP is defined as whether the DPJ unseats the LDP as the top party. If that happens, LDP members are expected to call for Prime Minister Aso’s head on a platter (and possibly make ex-comedian Miyazaki government Sonomanma Higashi PM install a caretaker PM ahead of the general election that must be held by September. Correction – Higashikokubaru could realistically only become PM after the general election. Apologies for the brain lapse).

Each party has stressed some local issues: The LDP/Komeito emphasize their efforts to help the local economy, while the DPJ tries to inject hot-button issues like the ailing bank Shinginko Tokyo and opposition to plans to move Tsukiji fish market to Toyosu.

For their part, the Happiness Realization Party (the new political arm of neo-Buddhist religion Happy Science) is playing up the threat of North Korea to scare people into supporting their party’s suggestion that Japan go ahead with a pre-emptive strike.

These are the issues candidates mention to the national media and in open-air speeches, though the campaign literature barely mentions them. At least in Adachi-ku, on paper every candidate has almost the exact same policy proposals – more welfare, more infrastructure, more of anything you can spend money on.

In Adachi-ku, 10 candidates are competing for 6 seats. Today I’d like to briefly introduce the one candidate Mrs. Adamu and I found somewhat reasonable:

Satoru Onishi – incumbent DPJ member

Satoru Onishi (48) – A current first-term assemblyman running for re-election, his political experience comes from a turn as the public secretary to DPJ Lower House Member Ritsuo Hosokawa (a former Socialist MP and current Shadow Defense Minister). He left the secretary position in 2001 to mount an ultimately unsuccessful run for the Tokyo assembly but succeeded the next time around in 2005.

Policy: Onishi predictably advocates generous welfare programs, such as a monthly 26,000 yen handout to families with children and lower classroom sizes, to benefit “your IMPORTANT children and grandchildren, for the NEXT GENERATION.”

Chances of winning: In the 2005 election Onishi came in 4th behind an LDP and two Komeito candidates. This year polling would indicate his party is set to do much better at the expense of the LDP, so it’s a pretty safe bet he will win re-election.

A touch of humanity: As graduate of Ritsumeikan University’s economics faculty, he and I share an alma mater (I was a one-year exchange student).

Since the Tokyo election commission publishes the home addresses of the candidates (PDF – don’t tell the personal information worry-warts), I was able to locate the apartment complex where Onishi lives. According to Google Maps, he lives right next to the mall where this stupid human trick took place:

On the future of Asia, ca. 1935

From the journal of Dr. Austin Craig, then professor of history at University of the Philippines who first moved there from the US around 1902. May 10, 1935.

I want self-government here because that is the next step due, the Filipinos have advanced to it, and there has to be progress. But I don’t want these fourteen millions of Christians – European trained, just as we – to be submerged in the hundreds of millions of heathens that surround them. I believe the Filipinos are the hope of Asia, and no less important to Europe and America, who want this world Europeanized, or Christian-civilized, which is the same thing, and is what we mean when we talk about white people. The Filipino, by Indian inheritance and European association, is European, and I hope the United States is going to protect him against the pan-Asiatic heathen influence – which means Japan.

Of Course Japan is no permanent menace, for the strictly repressed discontent – with all Japanese liberals talked of as Koreans – is going to bring an explosion, sooner or later, and with it the Japanese Republic. The old fetish of a God-like Emperor was ended when an emperor died of tuberculosis, and the special protection of the God has been discredited by earthquakes and a succession of other great alamities.

But until the day of Japanese Emancipation comes, the United States ought, in my opinion, to keep this outpost in the Orient and the Filipinos can be relied upon, with American backing, to hold their own land against any neighbor.

It’s a goodly land, worth keeping, and the people are as good, with “comely faces,” as the old Oriental writer long ago wrote of his native country and his countrymen. I have liked both land and people, or I wouldn’t have stayed here nearly thirty-one years.

I am glad that the Filipinos’ long-cherished dream of freedom is coming true. Only let men deam of teh possibility of anything and, no matter how frequently the failuers by trials, eventually comes triumph!

(Source: Bearers of Benevolence: The Thomasites and Public Education in the Philippines ed. Mary Racelis and Judy Celine Ick)

North Korean propaganda posters

imperialist wolves

“Do not forget the US imperialist wolves!”

ess_north_korean_39 extensive goats

“Let’s extensively raise goats in all families!”

Check these amazing samples of NK propaganda posters, with an interesting analysis:

Stylistically, North Korean art is far more than a mere copy of Soviet Russian socialist realism. As was the case with the revolution itself, North Korean socialist realist art had to accord with Korea’s specific historical conditions and cultural traditions. Kim Il Sung pronounced that “Korean Painting” [Chosonhwa], the indigenous post-revolutionary development of traditional ink painting, was the best representative of Korean styles and emotions. He made the essential features of Korean painting the model for all fine arts. Kim Jong Il in his Treatise on Art (Misullon, 1992) described the qualities of Korean Painting as clarity, compactness, and delicacy. These characteristics have become the standard applied to all art produced in North Korea. As such, they also form the basis and model for poster art. On the latter, Kim Jong Il had more to say in his treatise on art. As important tools in the mobilization of the masses, posters have to have an instantaneous impact on the viewers’ understanding and their desire to act upon this understanding. Their message has to be accessible, clear and direct; informative and explanatory, as well as exhortative. The link between contemplation and action is crucial. A poster artist is ultimately an agitator, who, familiar with the party line and endowed with a sharp analysis and judgment of reality produces a rousing depiction of policies and initiatives that stimulate the people into action. Only if the poster appeals to the ideological and aesthetic sentiments of the people will it succeed in truly rousing the people. Kim Jong Il refers to poster painters as standard bearers of their times, submerged in the overwhelming reality and in touch with the revolutionary zeal and creative power of the people, leading the way from a position among the people.

Posters are visual illustrations of the slogans that surround the people of North Korea constantly. North Korean society is in a permanent mobilization. Party and government declarations are stripped down to single-line catchphrases. Through their endless repetition in banners, newspaper headlines, and media reports, these compact slogans become self-explanatory, simultaneously interpreting and constructing reality.

Koen de Ceuster

(thanks to @cominganarchy)

Filipino Grocery in Adachi-ku Danchi

I was riding my bike around Adachi-ku Sunday and came across this danchi (danchi = low-rent, often public apartments, this one run by Tokyo prefecture) that apparently has a lot of Filipino residents who must work at the local factories:

Another great find on yesterday’s trip was this cheap supermarket ABS Wholesale Center (located here). They had my favorite cheap Chilean wine (Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon) for only 530 yen! It is usually around 700 or 800 yen at Ito-Yokado.

FREE MONEY update: 471k screwed up applications

Amazing: 471,567 households applied for their FREE MONEY from the Japanese government, but failed to fill out their addresses correctly!

Friday, July 3, 2009
471,000 Applications For Cash Handouts Sent Back With Wrong Addresses

TOKYO (Kyodo)–A total of 471,567 applications for the government’s pump-priming cash handout program have been sent back to municipalities as they were incorrectly addressed as of last Friday, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Friday.

The ministry said it will step up its publicity to call on households who have not received the cash benefits of up to 20,000 yen per person to file their applications as they are feared to fail to receive them.

Meanwhile, a survey showed 86.0 percent of households in 1,798 cities, towns and other municipalities across the country have received the cash handouts which have totaled 1,772.6 billion yen as of last Friday.

The municipalities began providing the cash benefits in March to cover about 54.8 million households under the government’s economic stimulus plan.

Of the applications sent back, 73,000 were sent to foreigners, who have often failed to provide moving notices to municipalities in urban and other areas.

The households will lose their right to receive the cash handouts unless they file applications in six months after the municipalities began to accept applications.

“The wrong addresses” apparently means that the addresses on the applications somehow did not match their residence registry (住民票). This could be anything from a kanji mistake to the head of the household neglecting to update his address with the local authorities.

Since Japanese nationals only had to fill out one form per household (foreigners had to fill them out individually since they’re not listed on residence registries for now), each mistaken application might be for multiple people. If we assume the “average household size” of 2.56 people, and roughly assume that all of them were only eligible for the basic 12,000 yen, that means we could be talking about 14.5 billion yen up for grabs.

I wonder what happens if the households “lose their right to receive the cash”? The towns better not get to keep it. It’s about 115 yen apiece for the other 125 million people in Japan, or more than enough to build another of the controversial proposed national anime museum.

Energy consumption in Japan: A couple of data points

Just out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at Japan’s energy situation. Here is the US Energy Department profile of the country:

Japan has virtually no domestic oil or natural gas reserves and is the second-largest net importer of crude oil and largest net importer of liquefied natural gas in the world. Including nuclear power, Japan is still only 16 percent energy self-sufficient. Japanese companies have actively pursued upstream oil and natural gas projects overseas in light of the country’s lack of domestic hydrocarbon resources. Japan remains one of the major exporters of energy-sector capital equipment and Japanese companies provide engineering, construction, and project management services for energy projects around the world. Japan has a strong energy research and development program that is supported by the government. The Japanese government actively pursues energy efficiency measures in an attempt to increase the country’s energy security and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Oil is the most consumed energy resource in Japan, although its share of total energy consumption has declined by about 30 percent since the 1970s. Coal continues to account for a significant share of total energy consumption, although natural gas and nuclear power are increasingly important sources, particularly as Japan pursues environmental policies. Japan is the third largest consumer of nuclear power in the world, after the United States and France. Hydroelectric power and renewable energy account for a relatively small percentage of total energy consumption in the country. Total energy consumption from 2003 to 2030 is forecast to grow by 0.3 percent per year on average, relatively small as compared to China’s forecast growth rate of 4.2 percent per year on average, according to EIA data.

According to METI’s energy agency, 58% of Japan’s electricity consumption comes from non-renewable sources such as oil, coal, and liquefied natural gas. That number is a whopping 71% in the US.

Japan energy consumption

As the Energy Dept. indicates, Japanese officials view Japan’s high energy consumption and low self-sufficiency as a potential vulnerability, in both economic and national security terms. For example, Iran’s  status as a major supplier of oil heightens Japan’s interest in the region (and based on pure speculation, might have influenced the Japanese media’s comparatively tame coverage of the recent Iranian election protests).

So remember: when you are enduring higher office temperatures thanks to Cool Biz, you’re not just saving electricity, you’re helping guarantee Japanese security!