Hatoyama look-alike hits jackpot after 20 years › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

Acting on his mentor’s instructions, he donned the suit and jacket — which before he only wore for funerals and wedding receptions — and changed his hairstyle for a taping of Takeshi’s TV program. When the show aired, his appearance generated an industry buzz.

via www.japantoday.com

Hatoyama inpersonator rocks!!

Japan's new prime minister and Google's UFO logo

Story Highlights Lower house elects Yukio Hatoyama as Japan's new prime minister Liberal Democratic Party Prime Minister Taro Aso resigns Last month, Japanese voters swept Aso's party from power Country suffering from after-effects of worst recession since World War II

via www.cnn.com

DPJ party leader Hatoyama became the prime minister of Japan officially yesterday.

Aside from all politics talks, I am interested in the fact that he studied in Stanford for his PhD in engineering. In other words, he is a sort of Silicon Valley insider.

A few weeks ago, when Google's top page logo turned into an "alien abduction" and they put up an encrypted message "all your o's belong to us" on Twitter, in addition to "regular" speculation in English net, a rumor that it is actually a satire for Mrs. Hatoyama went around in Japanese blogosphere.

An interview article was published the day before saying that Miyuki Hatoyama, the new first lady, declared that she was abducted by UFO in the past. Mr. Hatoyama himself was nicknamed "space alien" for a long time, so it was a big political joke in Japan.

That article was translated into English and was published in various major media overseas. Then the next day, Google UFO logo appeared. So people speculated.

According to a podcast TWiT, the logo was supposed to be for an anniversary of a famous computer game, but I was thinking that it may also have been a political satire by a Google insider, who personally knew Mr. & Mrs. Hatoyama.

Given his close tie with Stanford, the home of Google founders and many of its employees, it may not be a wild speculation.


FT.com / Columnists / David Pilling - A wiser Japan casts its vote without illusions

On Sunday night, the somewhat ghostly figure of Yukio Hatoyama appeared on television screens around Japan. In subdued tones and against the backdrop of a drab party hoarding, he spoke grimly of his humility and appreciation of the electorates' historic verdict. Anyone unfamiliar with Japanese would have thought he was conceding defeat.

via www.ft.com

This article really hits the point of current Japanese political mood. Great article.

I tweeted before the election, "So everyone thinks that DPJ will win big time but that they will screw up quickly and Hatoyama will not last long, and still things are moving as predicted. Should it be called 'premeditated scenario'?" I still believe it is the case and this article explains it really well.


Newsvine - Internet campaigning arrives cautiously in Japan

In this animated image on the official Web page of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, a noodle chef, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama, widely expected to be the next prime minister, replacing ruling party chief Taro Aso after the balloting on Aug. 30, 2009 for the lower house of parliament, presents a bowl of noodle, trying to please every customer until his bowl is an overflowing concoction of fish, fruit and ice cream. The ad, which has drawn more than 208,000 hits on YouTube, is poking fun at the alleged indecisiveness of Hatoyama and his party, the Democratic Party of Japan. (AP Photo/The official Web page of the Liberal Democratic Party)

via www.newsvine.com

OK, this is what I have been talking about. Finally, they are catching up, and there have been SO MUCH discussions about "internet usage for politics" on Japanese blogs/twitter/whatever.

Mr. Daisuke Tsuda, one of the net opinion leaders, said in his blog that the role of "gathering lots of votes" is as important as "casting your own vote" and still to me Japan's political net usage is not about THAT point and more of just "propaganda" or "advertisement" of the politicians, but I believe that people are smarter than politicians and will get it eventually.... I hope.. maybe.


Voting overseas

As my previous post, Japan's parliament election is officially in progress right now, with the general voting date on August 30.

The law to make it possible to vote overseas passed some years ago, but due to technical difficulties, only "proportional representation" was made possible since 2000, and finally we can also vote for "small election district" since 2007.  It was applied to the upper house election last year, and for more important lower house, this is the first time.

So I went to Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco today to cast a ballot.  You can do it through Saturday this week in person, or you can send in the ballot via mail.  For mailing method, you first have to send your overseas voter certificate to your election district and get the ballot before the election begins, so it takes a long time and I decided to do it in person this time.  It also is a bit of nice feeling to actually go and vote with many other people in the same place.

It is interesting that the consulate's PR about the election says "you should collect information about your district's candidates through press or internet".  In strict Japanese culture, it would not have been allowed to let such "loose" definition go.  In fact, in debate during the law making, the opposition argued that "some people do not have internet access and it would be unfair treatment for these people."

So those were the days.  Now there are several database covering statistics about elected officials in Japan, and you can see the party leaders' speech on YouTube.  Technology opens the door for wider range of people to participate, in many ways.  At least, it is my belief.


Will the streaming video FINALLY bring "Kennedy"-like awakening to Japan?

Japan's parliament election is coming up at the end of August, and this time, citizens there are feeling "change" in the air.  Not just about who will be the next prime minister there, but also about "how" he will be elected.  Although the election rules prohibit many types of Internet usage by individual candidates, on the ground of fairness - the remains of the days when Internet was not universally available -, so Obama-style "Net campaign" is impossible, still some interesting activities are happening on the Net this time.

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is in danger of losing the majority in the lower house for the first time since 1993, and the major press, including newspapers and TVs, are all predicting that the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will win, and thus the change of government.  Such an important occasion called for a public debate between the leaders of these two parties, and it was held on August 12 hosted by a volunteer organization, 21st Century Rincho.

In the U.S., the presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960, aired on TV, forever changed the American politics.  In Japan, just because LDP has been in power all the time, there was no need for such a debate, and TV could get by with just showing snippets of party leaders' speeches here and there.  This time, however, Japanese people really wanted to see the unedited version of the leaders' debate.

So came the Internet video.  On August 12, the real-time streaming was shown on YouTube-like free video service "Nico Nico Douga", with subscribers' comments shown on the screen.  You can still watch the recording on Nico Nico, YouTube or on 21st Century Rincho website.

TV showed only the snippets, as usual, and major press kept reporting that DPJ Hatoyama was leading over current prime minister Aso (LDP) in the debate, following the lines of their "change" campaign.  However, Net users are expressing a VERY different view.

In the full version, Hatoyama kept giving vague and contradictory statements, at times even painful to watch, and Aso making points much more clearly and sounded more reasonable.  Even discounting that the ruling PM has a clear advantage with experience and research power support by government officials, I have to say at least that Hatoyama is a weak public speaker and DPJ's policy is either not strong or not clearly communicated to the public.

And the Net opinion is flaring up, saying that the traditional media is covering up such DPJ's failure and trying to manipulate the public impression.  For the first time in the country's history, anybody can now have the access to the non-edited original video.  Power of Internet in public disclosure was proven in a dramatic manner.

In 1960, radio listeners thought Nixon won, but TV audience was getting an opposite impression, and the election ended up in Kennedy's victory.  It is still not clear whether this debate will have any influence in the election result this time around in Japan, and if it does, it could mean no "change" of government.  But more importantly, I believe that people realized the importance of Internet-style information disclosure.  And I hope it will give enough scale of shock to wake up the sleepy Japan.


Aso's Kanji test

On the same day as the new era finally comes along to the U.S. with Obama's inauguration, across the Pacific Ocean, an opposition party politician was mocking Prime Minister Aso for his inability to read Kanji correctly (=equivalent of not being able to spell correctly).

English version article

I cannot really judge Aso's ability to serve our country, because I live so far away and the only way to know his action is through sporadic (and often distorted) media coverage, but aside from that point, I feel ASHAMED to be a Japanese citizen, to see politicians wasting their precious time and the tax money for their salary for such trivial things.

My son is a bit dyslexic, so I understand that some people have trouble memorizing the right way to write/read Kanji, or spelling correctly.  It is hard.  I even suspect that Aso may have the similar tendency.  But so what?

It is one thing that media mock the politician in such a way (I enjoy Colbert Report a lot), but to do it in the parliament environment is totally another.  It is a SHAME to see this in the second largest economy in the world.


Related blog entry: 言うまいと思ったけど、悲しくなった日本とアメリカの違い

Can Taro Aso become the next Koizumi with "net" power?

In the U.S., all eyes are on the Presidential Election and the financial crisis, while Japan is in a bit of political turmoil in this messy world as well.

I was comparing various new search engines and Internet databases yesterday, and found out that lots of search result do not show that Taro Aso is the current Prime Minister of Japan.  Yes, Wikipedia is updated, but some minor ones don't reflect the "recent" changes yet.  He became the PM on Sep. 24, about 2 weeks ago.

Who cares about "PM of the day" in Japan?  Really, the two previous PMs have resigned in less than 1 year.  No time to memorize the names.

And many in Japanese major media predict that he will be the third "PM of the day" in a row, given the current stalemate in opposition-controlled upper house, and that the general election of the lower house will be called soon, with the ruling LDP likely to lose.

But I was surprised at the overwhelmingly POSITIVE reaction of the Internet people towards his inaugural speech in the lower house, as well as his speech in the United Nations just before that (both can be seen on YouTube and NicoNico Douga).

Unlike what is said about him in the New York Times editorial on the day of his UN speech, back home, he is much better known for his favor of Manga (Japanese comic books) and Internet, while his colleagues in the same age group often despise both.  So many Akihabara-goers have enthusiastically supported him for some time, nicknaming him "Rosen Aso" (taking from a character's name in his favorite manga).

I thought it was about rather small number of people, but the amount and kinds of positive reaction from the broader Internet community, including NicoNico comments and Hatena bookmarks (Japanese version of Digg), really struck me.

I remember seeing this type of political tempreture on the net before the election in 2005, where then-PM Junichiro Koizumi achieved a landslide victory, despite of the negative prediction of major media.

There, I was impressed about the huge gap between the traditional media and Internet in Japan, and am wondering if this time around, the same thing may or may not happen.

Some say such enthusiasm towards Aso will die down soon, faced by the severe reality of late.

I don't make any bets, but am curiously watching how the Net tempreture changes over the next couple of months or so.