Japan from the inside out

Out of the woodwork

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, November 14, 2009

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF JAPAN owes its victory in the August lower house elections to the electorate’s long-standing desire for sweeping reforms in the conduct of government and the realization that they weren’t going to get it from the Liberal-Democratic Party as presently constituted. But in much fewer than the 100 days often used as a benchmark for political performance elsewhere, it has become apparent that the only sweeping the DPJ’s new brooms will do is hide its reform promises under the carpet. Meanwhile, the party’s victory has had the unexpected byproduct of unfastening the lid on the Pandora’s box of their membership and allowing some unappealing specimens to ooze into public view. One of them is Kushibuchi Mari, as we’ve seen here.

Another is Hatsushika Akihiro. In Tokyo’s 16th district, Mr. Hatsushika defeated Shimamura Yoshinobu, who formerly served as Education Minister and Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister. Mr. Shimamura had served nine terms in office and is 75 years old, 35 years older than his handsome challenger. The desire for new blood as well as change was likely a factor in Mr. Hatsushika’s victory.

But what does Mr. Hatsushika believe beyond the standard political boilerplate? He gave the country an idea on his Japanese-language website in this translated message posted on 30 July 2002.


In Japan, we generally use the term Kitachosen (North Korea) to refer to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Most Japanese use the term Kitachosen without a second thought. But is that the appropriate name for the country?

As you know, the Joseon people are now divided into two countries at the 38th parallel. The southern part is called the Republic of Korea, and the northern part is called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Japanese people generally use the term Kankoku to refer to the country in the south. The use of the name Chosen (Joseon) for the northern part enables it to be distinguished from Kankoku. But the word North is added.

The people of Joseon are in fact extremely uncomfortable about the name. They are dissatisfied with this term because they are aware it refers to one region in the northern part of the Korean peninsula and doesn’t recognize that they are a country. We probably aren’t aware of it, but the people who first used the term Kitachosen likely did so with that in mind.

Solid diplomatic relations cannot be formed unless both partners in a relationship recognize each other as countries. If the people of one country want the people of another country to respect them, they have to respect the other country in the same way.

That’s why I don’t use the term Kitachosen. I make every effort to call the country Joseon or The Republic because the people of Joseon are as proud of their own country as I am proud of the country Japan. I do not think we should negligently wound their pride.


Mr. Hatsushika wrote this blog entry when North Korea still maintained it had not abducted Japanese citizens. Just two months later, Kim Jong-il came partially clean to then-Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichiro and admitted they had occurred after all.

Alas, that entry on Mr. Hatsushika’s blog exists no longer. Someone’s erased it. Was he concerned that it might have an untoward effect on his election campaign? Has he never heard the expression about information wanting to be free?

But Mr. Hatsushika left a few blank spaces in his explanation of how words are supposed to mean things. Let’s fill some of them in.

* The Japanese government has a treaty with South Korea in which it recognizes the latter as the only lawful government on the Korean Peninsula.

* Mr. Hatsushika is not alone in his choice of Joseon or The Republic as the names used to refer to North Korea. Those are the names preferred by the DPRK itself, as well as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, and they reject any other. The latter group is closely allied with North Korea, supports the country’s juche ideology, and is opposed to the integration of its members in Japanese society. Six of its officials are also delegates of the Supreme People’s Assembly, which the reference books say is the name of the North Korean “parliament”.

* Chongryon does not refer to South Korea as Kankoku. Instead, it uses the term Minamichosen (as it would be Romanized from the Japanese). The Japanese term for North Korea, Kitachosen, means North (Kita) Joseon (Chosen). Minami is the Japanese word for south.

* The Japanese media in the past used to refer to the North as Kitachosen while including the full Democratic People’s Republic of Korea name at least once during each report, at Chongryon’s request. That ended with the revelation of the truth about the abductions. The news media noted that they didn’t use the formal name of any other country in their reports.

* Chongryon operates about 60 schools nationwide for the children of its members, including one university. Pictures of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il adorn the classroom walls. According to the Chongryon newspaper, Hatsushika Akihiro is a strong supporter of those schools. He’s also visited North Korea—or should we say The Republic?—several times.

* The Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters for Kankoku (South Korea) would be Hanguk, which those familiar with the Korean language will instantly recognize.

Fancy that: here’s another member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan sitting in the Diet who’s an ally of an enemy of the state. (Friends of the state wouldn’t kidnap its citizens and hold them for some 15 years, now would they?) And since he’s at the ripe young age of 40—and wrote that blog post at the age of 33—Mr. Hatsushika had to have formed his views when the criminal venality of the Kim Family Regime had never been more obvious.

It would seem that the personality type of the poseur lifestyle Leftist is a universal phenomenon. Instead of wearing Che Guevara t-shirts, the Japanese fancy the Kim Jong-il model instead.

Where did this defender of neo-Stalinism come from, and how did he get where he is?

Hatsushika A.

Pyeongyang's pal in the Diet

It’s a fascinating story. Mr. Hatsushika was graduated from the University of Tokyo with a degree from the Faculty of Law. That has traditionally been the point of departure on the elite track for those interested in a career in politics or government. Mr. Hatsushika seems to have gotten intellectually sidetracked, but he still wound up at the station punched on his ticket. He entered politics by being elected to a seat on the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on his second try.

Japanese political parties usually determine the candidates they choose to support for Diet seats themselves without holding primary elections for the voters. That means the DPJ thought Hatsushika Akihiro was worthy of a seat in the Japanese Diet.

It probably also helped that he worked as an aide to DPJ head and current Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio between his first and second try for a Tokyo Metro seat.

It’s time to revisit James Delingpole again, speaking to Americans about their 2008 presidential election:

“I warned the U.S. of the ‘smorgasbord of scuzzballs, incompetents, time servers, Communists, class warriors, eco-loons, single-issue rabble-rousers, malcontents and losers who always rise to the surface during a left-liberal administration….it becomes a problem – as you’re about to discover, if you haven’t already – when your ruling administration consists of nothing but these people. No longer do they qualify as light relief. They become your daily nightmare…. Making these predictions was a no-brainer because it’s exactly the same process as we’ve witnessed in Britain these last twelve years under New Labour.’”

This would seem to be another universal phenomenon.

Instead of voting in reformers, the Japanese electorate inadvertently flipped the lid on a Pandora’s box filled with the most motley of crews. Their promises have been broken with childish excuses, they are reinforcing the bureaucratic influence rather than weakening it, and they are conducting the business of government with tragicomic incompetence.

This weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama is meeting with Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio, the patron of Hatsushika Akihiro. The meeting is likely to go smoothly. After all, they have much in common, starting with an amateurishness in handling the affairs of state and conducting blatantly illegal fund-raising operations.

And continuing with the similarity in the views of their political associates.

7 Responses to “Out of the woodwork”

  1. Brian said

    Article that is mostly on point until you got the point where you brought up the senile James Delingpole. A man who does not live on planet earth and has no business being cited for anything whatsoever. I am not sure what universal phenomenon he is discussing. New Labour certainly fit the bill as scuzzballs, incompetents, malcontents and losers but the Communist, class warrior, eco-loon idiocy has nothing to do with them. If anything they continued on the merry path of Thatcher.

    No idea where you get these people!

  2. ampontan said

    Brian: Well, mostly on point is better than not at all!

    BTW, according to the Internet, Delingpole is 44 years old.

  3. Robert Meurant said

    God forbid, you could try to be just a little objective in your analyses, rather than being transparently biased. Would that the political milieu could so easily be partitioned into black and white.

  4. PaxAmericana said

    I don’t think the DPJ is the only party to have a Korean (including North) connection that the masses don’t want to hear about. The whole yakuza complex and certain religious groups come to mind. And they’ve been very powerful a lot longer than the DPJ as we know it has been in existence.
    PA: I’ve written one article here about Kato Koichi and his toadying to the North (and the connection with his aide), and New Komeito plenty of times.

    – BS

  5. melmo said

    Obama did some homework before visiting Japan. He chose to be informed about the Japanese culture and political landscape with its nearby countries. Obama bowed correctly to the Japanese emperor and mentioned the kidnapping issue as the top priority for normalizing Japan’s relationship with North Korea–and he did so in front of the sore Hatoyama’s face, while entertaining the Japanese audience with his memories of green tea ice cream. He was not so sophomoric.

  6. ampontan said

    Since when is a simultaneous bow and a handshake a correct bow?

  7. melmo said

    I would call it a nice 45 degree bow with an American flavor, successfully conveying respect. After all, the Japanese tend to be less demanding towards non-Japanese.
    And at least American liberals support democracy unlike those Japanese leftists who possesses anti-democratic agendas.

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