Quotidian Wonders

Lost in Translation: Arianna Huffington and Shinzō Abe

Arianna Huffington and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzō Abe. From the Huffington Post.

Arianna Huffington and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. From the Huffington Post.

This is my response to Arianna Huffington’s most recent article from Japan, published in the Huffington Post: Postcard From Japan: Talking Zen, Abenomics, Social Networking and the Constitution With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Ms Huffington seems to have enjoyed very much the attention she got in Japan, having been received by the prime-minister himself, that she forgot how to have a meaningful conversation with the descendant of a political dynasty of contemporary Japan, and one of the most proponent of nationalistic policies in Japan.

I am afraid that this is not Ms Huffington’s best article. The author has left herself seduced by Mr. Abe’s too well-known charisma and decided to be soft on him. Or, maybe, she chose to put herself on the politician’s good side, given the fact that the visit was occasioned by the launching of Huffington Post Japan.

First, Ms Huffington allots a big chunk of her analysis to the “Abenomics,” nothing else but a series of populist measures that Mr Abe is convinced will give the LDP the majority in the Upper House of the Diet at the next elections. Mr Abe is not at all interested in long-term solutions for the Japanese economy or for its people, but in those solutions that will put the LDP in the position of never losing the elections again (a feat achieved by the LDP from 1947 til 1992). Time will tell if Mr Abe’s aggressive economic policies will lead Japan on an economic revival, but I can guarantee right now that the infinitesimal decrease in the suicide rate amongst the Japanese youth has nothing to do with Mr Abe’s economic wisdom.

Second, Ms Huffington chose to spend time in admiration for Mr Abe’s competency in using Facebook and Twitter, but did not find more time to spend over the thorny issue of the proposed referendum on the modification of the Constitution. The elimination of Article 9 from the Japanese Constitution faces extreme opposition among the civil society. Addressing it might have also opened the topic of Japan’s war responsibility, one that large segments of the population is almost unaware of because of the way the history of WW II is taught in Japanese schools.

Finally, one must wonder how was it possible not to ask Mr Abe’s about his ministers lining up to visit and pay respects to the Yasukuni Shrine, that Shinto altar where soldiers who fell for the emperor are enshrined. Only in the few days, four of Mr Abe’s ministers visited the shrine, to the dismay and anger of China and South Korea. And for good reason, if one thinks that no less than 14 Class A WWII Criminals are enshrined there. Chief among them is general Tojo Hideki, the prime-minister of Japan from 1941 til 1944, and the mind behind the attack on Pearl Harbor. Those topics might have been a little bit more challenging for the prime-minister, and I am sure that they would have left less time for his awkward jokes, otherwise duly reported.

So, one might wonder, has Mr Abe addressed Ms Huffington in English or Japanese? Because if the latter, then maybe this article is just a case of being “lost in translation”…

One comment

  1. Pingback: Lost in Translation: Arianna Huffington and Shi...

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