AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

For the record

Posted by ampontan on Monday, November 2, 2009

THIS PREVIOUS POST on the Japan’s ruling coalition contains a purported exchange between Fukushima Mizuho, the head of the junior partner Social Democrats, and Tahara Soichiro, host of the television program Asa Made (Until Morning). During the exchange, Ms. Fukushima insisted that police should let dangerous criminals escape rather than take any action that would cause injury when trying to apprehend them.

This excerpt is so easy to find on the Japanese-language turf of the Internet that some have described it as “famous”. Just this weekend, however, I discovered that the dialogue might be bogus, which would make it a Japanese urban legend. One blogger/author has been trying to find the original record of the program and cannot do so. Neither can the Asahi TV network, on which the program appeared.

It is perhaps Ms. Fukushima’s radical background, combined with a tendency to fire off comments that are intemperate, loopy, or both, that make it easy to believe she might have said something that dangerous and silly. But too many people are already involved in the nonsense of tarring others with fabricated quotes, so we don’t need to contribute to it here.

On the other hand, her exchange with then-Foreign Minister Nakasone and then-Defense Minister Hamada in the Diet about intercepting a North Korean missile cited in that same post is on the legit. She’s also been known to compare missile defense to hitting a bullet fired from a pistol with a bullet fired from another pistol.

Ms. Fukushima, the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety, Social Affairs, and Gender Equality, has also left a record in print about matters now under her jurisdiction. Specifically, she is responsible for government efforts to deal with Japan’s low birthrate, yet she is also opposed to the “family system”. For example, in her book Kekkon ha Bakuchi De Aru (Marriage is a Gamble), she writes:

“When a child turns 18, I think we should hold a ‘Family Liberation Ceremony’”.

In Fukushima Mizuho no Rakudai Kosodate Noto (Fukushima Mizuho’s Notes from Her Child-Rearing Failure), she adds:

“When children turn 18, I want to tell them, ‘Do as you please’. Start from scratch and think about how to live your own life without interference from anyone else 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. I want to do the same thing myself. In my case, I want to be liberated from having to make them meals and trying to come up with something for them to do on their days off. Banzai!”

In other words, the DPJ-led Government has put in charge of promoting the creation of families a person who dislikes parenthood and thinks children should be given the boot from the family circle as soon as it’s legally possible to do so.

Wait, it gets better.

On her Japanese language blog, she wrote the following on 3 April this year:

“Today’s social structure compels an environment that is heartless toward young people. They are thrown into a society in which the different safety nets have become withered, including government, the family, the community, and the company. Young people are being made to bear the burden when there is no (political) vision for what do after the economic crisis.”

So out of one side of her mouth she shouts a lusty Banzai for kicking the kids out the door at age 18, while out of the other she laments that the family has become weakened as a social safety net.

There’s nothing very mystifying or complicated about all this. Ms. Fukushima comes from the anti-life segment of the Left whose objective is to establish state control over all aspects of the citizens’ behavior, and to be one of those whose hands are on the levers of control. It doesn’t make any difference whether the issue is national defense, a low birthrate, or lichee import quotas. Politicians of a similar breed can be found throughout the West, and have even gained a temporary ascendancy in the United States. She, and they, will say or do anything as a temporary expedient to achieve that objective.

People are making up false quotes and attributing them to her? It’s unfair, but that’s been known to happen to people in the political arena who take stands that many dislike.

In the long run, however, it won’t make much difference. She has an extensive record of bona fide statements that are enough to legitimately brand her as a fringe thinker representing the negative fringe element.

The real problem is that Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio doesn’t see it that way.

4 Responses to “For the record”

  1. Robert Meurant said

    I don’t see how you can equate “When children turn 18, I want to tell them, ‘Do as you please’.” with “Ms. Fukushima comes from the anti-life segment of the Left whose objective is to establish state control over all aspects of the citizens’ behavior, and to be one of those whose hands are on the levers of control.” Isn’t she arguing the opposite?

    One can be critical of the sometimes excessive dictates of family life without being against the family, surely, or without constituting that paragon of argumentum ad hominen, the fringe thinker.

  2. Bryce said

    “I don’t see how you can equate “When children turn 18, I want to tell them, ‘Do as you please’.” with “Ms. Fukushima comes from the anti-life segment of the Left whose objective is to establish state control over all aspects of the citizens’ behavior, and to be one of those whose hands are on the levers of control.” Isn’t she arguing the opposite?”

    Yes, precisely what I was thinking, Amp. As a good socialist I suspect Ms. Fukushima would argue that the safety nets the state provides should be strengthened to allow for individual empowerment and, if people choose, greater autonomy from their families. You may disagree with this, but I don’t see her position as inconsistent.

    By the way, this seems to be the way they do things in even the very conservative part of Germany where I once lived, and young adults were more well-adjusted there than anywhere else I have been.

  3. ampontan said

    “Safety nets”–is there a more inappropriate term?–have never had anything to do about individual empowerment and more to do with creating a class dependent on the government. Individual empowerment means the government gets out of the way and keeps its thumbs off the scales.

    Ms. Fukushima clearly dislikes family life. She clearly dislikes children. She is one of the primary backers of the initiative to remove the income tax break Japanese families get for children and replace it with a cash payment from the government. Her stated objective is raising the birth rate.

    Since that is never going to raise the birth rate (there is much historical evidence for this), the only reason is to inculcate a sense of dependency on the government for the basics of life. For the left, it has the benefit of changing the entire terms of the debate about the role of government.

    The term safety net is absurd, BTW, because it compares life with walking a tightrope in a circus. Life is nothing like walking a tightrope in a circus, because 95% of us get along fine without it most of our lives. The issue is how to help the remaining 5%–many of whom will never be helped–without handicapping the 95%.

    As for “greater automomy” from families (whatever that means) in Europe, the opposite is true. More children are living at home until later in life (into their 30s) than ever before.

  4. Bryce said

    Yes, well thank you for that. But just because I don’t agree with moral hazard arguments doesn’t mean that I am not aware of them. Like many, I went through an economic libertarian phase at University.

    But I was not trying to pick a sophomoric fight over which deductive model of distributive justice should be applied to actual human behaviour.

    What I noted was that, Ms. Fukushima probably believes that freedom of opportunity means nothing without a certain degree of access to opportunity, and that some family circumstances are less than felicitous to a point where they will not offer the latter. If you disagree with that, fine. The point is that she believes it, and therefore is quite consistent in her wish to “liberate” individuals from the family. Whether or not that entails “dependence” on the state instead of the family unit is quite irrelevant from the standpoint of Ms. Fukushima’s consistency, which is what we were talking about before this turned into a rehash of very old and very boring arguments.

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