Saturday, 1 September 2012
Yesterday, September 1st, was "Earthquake Day" in Japan. This was the 89th anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake that destroyed the Tokyo metropolis, and this is the day when schools, Universities, government offices and private companies hold emergency drills and practice first aid. 387,000 people in total turned out to wear hard hats and take part in triage simulations.
Yesterday was also the day (and surely this is no coincidence) that the Mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, and his party the Osaka Ishin no Kai (The One Osaka Movement) released their national manifesto, dubbed the "Eight Point Restoration" (witness their flair for dramatic titles).
This charismatic young(ish) politician has the public behind him at the moment, with his outraged speeches against political corruption and the entrenched, conservative bureaucracy. He has made calls for change, such as an end to the ban of internet campaigning that leads to politicians polluting the neighborhoods with their "sound trucks" at election time.
There is a dark side to Hashimoto, however. He has made controversial remarks about "benevolent dictatorships", "government employees having no rights", and - most disturbingly - has joined in the revisionists' attempts to whitewash the atrocities committed by the Japanese nation during World War II.
So; Hashimoto. A name to remember. Does he represent the road to Freedom - or Fascism?