Thursday, August 27, 2009

Election Updates: From The Blogs

Japan doesn't have an active Green Party*, although there have been efforts over the years to start one, and some success on the local level. Some bloggers are comparing the main parties and their national policies. I thought I should sum up some of my finds:

Greener World compares what LDP and DPJ say about biodiversity. Noting that both parties are concerned about loss of biodiversity, the blogger points out that LDP seems aware of Japan's responsibilities next year, when Nagoya is hosting the UN Biodiversity Conference. LDP wants Japan to "exhibit global leadership" at the meeting. DPJ has "rather strong measures to protect biodiversity" and both parties mention the need to protect satoyama, the farm/forest areas that are so important for food security in Japan. Greener World gives LDP a paltry 10 points, while DPJ gets 60 points, noting that "LDP needs to put on their geta (wooden sandals)" and go out and do something, not just pass the buck to other government agencies.

Several bloggers are wondering what to make of the main parties' farm policies. Hanasyoubu is not impressed by either platform. Both LDP and DPJ are proposing to continue subsidies to farmers indefinietly. But that kind of system has failed to provide food security for Japan. Hanasyoubu reminds the reader that the self-sufficiency rate is around 40%, and doesn't think DPJ's proposals will be enough to help farmers in any substantial way: "Distributing money freely for farm policies will only make the public feel more uneasy about political measures." I'll counterbalance that with mmasaosato, a blogging Communist party assembly member in Fukui prefecture, who is angry about DPJ's manifesto. "It will reduce Japan's food self-sufficiency to zero," he claims, as DPJ's platform at one stage seemed to be promoting the view that Japan and the United States should have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The Communist party, on the other hand, "absolutely" opposes a FTA deal, saying it would destroy Japan's agriculture, as cheap imports would make it impossible to sell domestically produced rice, vegetables or fruit.

I would also like to mention Marutei Tsurunen, DPJ member of parliament, who wants a Food Safety Agency modelled on the EFSA in the European Union. Check out his English website, and his plans to promote organic farming!

...every month, I travel around Japan and continue my speaking activities to promote organic farming. I am happy to say that the number of agriculturalists engaging in organic farming is beginning to increase and the number of retail outlets selling organic foods to consumers, such as supermarkets, has also grown. In areas such as Tokyo and Yokohama, more and more restaurants are using organic ingredients. Organic farming has finally started to make a major contribution in Japan to food safety and to protecting the health of our land.

Tokyo blogger Ekojin has done a very detailed analysis of the environmental policies of all the parties (and is not impressed by the farm policy of the Communists, calling them "fumufumu", as in "going on and on"). Ekojin applauds the DPJ stance on renewable energy, but gets "very emotional" about the lack of ideas how to secure rare metals for all the new batteries and appliances that are supposed to give Japan a global leadership position, and "can't wait until we start discussing" stable energy supply issues more seriously. Ekojin feels DPJ has more concrete proposals than LDP (but DPJ is "using too much katakana terminology").

I'll end with Far East News, a right-wing blog with detailed analysis, because it has interesting comments on the calculations to see what DPJ's energy proposals would cost. DPJ wants to reduce green house gas emissions by 30% by investing in solar power, wind power, more effective boilers, and rules to help home owners install better insulation. But all of these ideas cost an enormous amount of money. Far East News notes that each household would have to pay around 360,000 yen a year, and the total amount of money would mount up to 190 trillion yen in the entire country, and concludes that is is quite impossible for DPJ to promise such reforms, quoting Sankei Shinbun's interview with officials who wondered what kind of debate or discussion DPJ had held to come up with its numbers...

Still looking forward to the election? Well, I am. Japan needs new leaders with some fresh ideas. Who is the greenest? Let's hope we all deserve better than what we have currently got.

* Midori no Mirai, based in Koenji, Tokyo, has a website and a lot of interesting ideas, but is it a party?


TenThousandThings said...

Thanks for this great summary and analysis. I blogged on this blog, adding my concern that this "historic" upset seems eerily similar to last year's US election that promised change, but followed with "more of the same." I'm also hoping for something better for Japan.

Martin J Frid said...

Thanks for the comment, well, they will have their hands full. I like how the typhoon greeted them today with a major downpour in Tokyo - clean up time!