/

Japan gets its own Democratic Party

by

Staff Writer

The new opposition force being assembled to take on the conservative ruling coalition announced Friday that the English version of its name will be the Democratic Party.

The translation was supposed to correspond to the merged party’s recently adopted Japanese name, Minshin To. But while it reflects the idea of min (democratic), the aspect of shin (progress), was largely lost in translation.

Democratic Party of Japan President Katsuya Okada shrugged off the contradiction by rationalizing that the word “democratic” has deeper connotations than the name suggests.

“Making ‘progress’ together with the public is precisely what democracy is about,” he said.

The discrepancy between the Japanese and English names may also spark speculation that the DPJ’s ranks wanted to highlight its democratic side internationally, as Minshin To does not include the quintessential word minshu (democratic). The other party in the merger is Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party).

The name also appears to represent a backtracking from “Democratic Innovation Party,” which was initially floated as a leading candidate for the translated title.

Okada, however, said Friday that DIP never became the focus of deliberation by the party executives because it was merely a suggestion made by one of the lawmakers involved.

Echoing Okada’s view, DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano, said, “After close deliberation, we’ve decided the Democratic Party is the most appropriate translation of” the original Japanese name.

Soon after media reports surfaced Monday that Minshin To might adopt DIP as its English name, Internet users ridiculed what they called a poorly thought out translation. Some said it may be mistaken as the American slang referring to a foolish person, while others likened it to the DPJ’s dipping support rate.

Okada said such online mockery had nothing to do with the decision party officials arrived at Friday.