Me: How’s things?

Japan: Not bad.

Me: Can we talk about your politics?

Japan: That’s a bit dull isn’t it? I mean, politics is so concerned with itself and its own opinions. It gets a bit repetitive and boring.

Me: But perhaps your politics is new and different from what i’m used to. Who are the major political parties?

Japan: Well, there’s the LDP and the DPJ.

Me: What?

Japan: The Liberal Democrat Party and the Democratic Party of Japan. Then you’ve got the JPP, the TPJ and the NKP not be confused with the NRP.

Me: Hang on –

Japan: And then there’s the PLP and the JCP –

Me: They sound like industrial chemicals.

Japan: They might as well be. Then we’ve got the YP, the SPP and who can forget the OSMP?

Me: I don’t know. Who?

Japan: Well, most people actually.

Me: And which one of these collections of letters is the biggest and most popular?

Japan: Oh, the LDP.

Me: What? Really? The Liberal Democrats? Ruling you, Japan? I would have expected a conservative party.

Japan: That is the conservative party.

Me: Sorry?

Japan: The LDP is a conservative party.

Me: So they’re not liberals?

Japan: Nope.

Me: And they’re not Democrats.

Japan: That’s right.

Me: But they’re called the Liberal Democrat Party?

Japan: Yes.

Me: So which party is liberal?

Japan: The DPJ.

Me: And how liberal are they?

Japan: Slightly. Very slightly. Ish. Almost.

Me: Is anybody else on the left?

Japan: A couple tiny parties, yeah. The JCP for instance.

Me: …?

Japan: The Japanese Communist Party.

Me: Right, that’s pretty left.

Japan: Oh, yeah, all the way left. Leftfield. Lefty.

Me: And the others?

Japan: Most of the other smaller parties compete throughout the political right-left spectrum for as many votes as they can. They usually do this by annoying everybody during the run-up to an election by driving around in cars or vans with loud speakers throwing bullshit indiscriminately into the ears of the general public at deafening volumes.

Me: Why?

Japan: So they can form coalitions after the elections and pretend to be more important than they actually are. Especially as the LDP always wins.

Me: The LDP always wins?

Japan: Pretty much. They were in power almost continuously from 1955 to 2009 and they’re in power right now.

Me: Wow. How did they do that?

Japan: Well, it helps if your father or a relative is already in power at local, city, prefectural or national level. Then you quite quickly climb the ladder of politics and just keep the party going.

Me: But people vote for them. They must reflect people’s views in the first place. There must be a lot of public consultation and communication going on?

Japan: Erm, yeah, if you mean policy makers and politicians employ “experts” to do “research” to find results that they were already looking for and which are beneficial to their view of things in the first place then, yeah, there’s plenty of that. Masses of it. It’s a whole industry.

Me: And do the media criticise, harrang and question these politicians?

Japan: Hmm, they don’t really like doing that too much. It’s difficult isn’t it?

Me: Why?

Japan: Well, because they’re in power and checking the facts takes time. People don’t have so much of that so it’s much easier to just repeat what the guy in front of the microphone said.

Me: Don’t those guys in front of the microphone ever say or do anything stupid?

Japan: Oh, yes, of course. At least one of my high ranking politicians will say something idiotic that either panders pathetically and hopelessly to a popular opinion or insults, angers or annoys vast swathes of people on a national and/or international level almost every month. It takes a few decades of selective inbreeding to produce a political class that has this level of diplomatic and political incompetence yet still remain in power. It’s an achievement in a way.

Me: So, the political class stay almost continuously cosy, handing out jobs, contracts and research in order to keep themselves and their family and friends in places of power, money and influence?

Japan: Right.

Me: Meanwhile, a docile mainstream media, too pre-occupied with grabbing headlines and seeking sensation so they can make a profit, toes the official line or just regurgitates what it’s being fed to a public that long ago stopped expecting anything to really change because it doesn’t matter who you vote for, a group of politicians will always form a government.

Japan: Sounds about right.

Me: …

Japan: So, is all this new and different from what you’re used to?

Me: Actually, it all sounds horribly familiar.


June 19, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

The rainy season

Japan: So, the rainy season has started.

Me: The rainy season?

Japan: Yeah, it started the other day. It said so on the news.

Me: But it was pissing down over a week ago. Cats and dogs and all sorts.

Japan: Yeah, but that wasn’t the rainy season.  It said so on the news.

Me: So, how do they know?

Japan: Well, everybody’s been talking about it haven’t they? And now it’s official and everything. The rainy season has started.

Me: Why does it matter?

Japan: What do you mean?

Me: Well, who cares if it’s official and everything?

Japan: Look, it’s the rainy season. I was just letting you know that the rainy season has started.

Me: Does it rain at other times of the year?

Japan: Well, of course.

Me: Is it raining right now?

Japan: Erm, no…

Me: So, sometimes it doesn’t rain in the rainy season?

Japan: Right.

Me: And it rains when it isn’t the rainy season?

Japan: Right.

Me: But you still have a season you call “rainy”.

Japan: Yes. It’s, i mean, wait…Does your country have a rainy season?

Me: I’m from England. Every season is a rainy season.

Japan: Four rainy seasons!

Me: No, it’s–

Japan: That’s amazing!

Me: No–

Japan: It must be tough. So many umbrellas. And the humidity must be terrible. How can you live like that?

Me: It’s not always the rainy season. It’s just that you’re never more than an hour or so away from potential drizzle. Anyway, is the rainy season really a season?

Japan: Yes.

Me: How?

Japan: Well, it said so on the news. This week. Rainy season.

Me: But it’s spring. That’s an actual season.

Japan: And it’s rainy. So, that’s one as well.

Me: You like seasons so much you’ve got seasons within seasons.

Japan: You’ve got to love the seasons. Did i tell you that i’ve got four of them?

Me: Yeah, we’ve done that before.

Japan: Plus the rainy season.

Me: I’m not –

Japan: And job hiring season.

Me: Come on –

Japan: And cherry blossom season.

Me: Let’s –

Japan: And cherry picking season.

Me: I give up.

Japan: And autumn leaves season.

Me: Fuck it. I’ll join in.

Japan: And the ski season.

Me: The music festival season?

Japan: And the rice planting season.

Me: The rice harvest season?

Japan: And the Beaujolais season.

Me: The wedding season?

Japan: And…hang on. Don’t you have all these seasons in Drizzleland?

Me: I’m not sure we call all of those kinds of things “seasons”.

Japan: What do you call them?

Me: Well, er…Stuff That Happens…Things That People Do…Hobbies…

Japan: That’s a bit boring.

Me: Yeah, maybe. Anyway, when does this rainy season end?

Japan: Next month some time. Then it’ll officially be summer. It’ll be on the news.

Me: And how do they know?

Japan: Well, everybody will be talking about it, telling each other that it’s the end of the rainy season and the start of summer.

Me: But how does everybody know?

Japan: Well, it’ll be on the news.

Me: But –

Japan: Is it raining yet?

Me: No.

Japan: It will. It’s the rainy season.

June 4, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.