Media Mix, Aug. 4, 2013

Yohei Miyake

Yohei Miyake

Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about the LDP’s lack of a popular mandate despite its overwhelming victory in the recent Upper House election. Regardless of the numbers—whether we’re talking ballots counted or voter turnout—the tone of the campaigns and the public’s reaction to those campaigns show how out-of-touch the electorate is with the political world, and vice versa. The two LDP-related videos I cited in the column are informed by cynicism on the part of the ruling party and fierce resentment on the part of its supporters. When the security goons take that Fukushima woman’s placard away at the Abe rally, they are basically telling her that her opinion means nothing, and she should have known that before she showed up. The frenzied anti-media chanting at the Abe rally in Akihabara demonstrates that the politics of antagonism is one of the LDP’s most potent methods for attracting support: Exploit negative feelings to your advantage. In contrast, the rally in Shibuya is characterized by a desire to move beyond antagonism toward dialogue. Skeptics may find Green Party candidate Yohei Miyake’s speech naive, but what he’s saying is that the atmosphere created by the LDP’s political gamesmanship makes their opponents reluctant to engage them on the issues. “We shouldn’t be afraid to express our opinions,” he says during his speech. “Let’s tell those guys who are crazy about war how great it is to be crazy about peace.” Though the weeklies and tabloids haven’t been very helpful in this regard, mostly deriding people like Miyake (who lost) and anti-nuclear advocate Taro Yamamoto (who won) in a reactionary anti-leftist manner, they can’t help but notice that the election didn’t bode well for a healthy democracy. Gendai despaired over the realization that Abe and Co. would be able to “do anything they wanted” from now on, and in a bullying, privileged manner. The only antidote to this situation is a media that questions the adversarial model, but unfortunately the media thrives on it, because they think it provides drama and drama is what draws viewers and readers. In her Tokyo Shimbun column, Minako Saito described the Akihabara rally as being dominated by “jeers and abusive language,” not against the people on the sound truck, but against those people’s opponents, who were imagined as being legion. This is nothing but paranoia, which the LDP exploits. I mean, NHK is the enemy of the status quo? The Asahi Shimbun is going to sell the country out to the Chinese and the Koreans? Conservatives and so-called “realists” always accuse left-leaning people of living in a fantasy world, but unmediated anger (against anything) can have the same effect. Believing that everybody is out to get you is the most dangerous fantasy of all.

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