Risk of losing public’s ‘tolerance’

Regarding the Dec. 2 article “Secrecy law protests ‘act of terrorism‘: LDP secretary general”: Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba’s comments that street protesters voicing opposition to the new state secrets bill by shouting it in public demonstrations are doing something “not so fundamentally different from an act of terrorism” confirms in my mind the direction that Japan’s conservative government is headed.

That direction is to silence opposition by criminalizing criticism of the leadership. It will include not only journalistic and the political opposition’s critiques of government policy and behavior but also comedic parody and satire as well as treatment of the state and government in the arts — letters, music and graphic arts.

It will come in the form of a bill mandating respect for the prime minister and his Cabinet, the Emperor, the national anthem and the flag, and other symbols of the state, plus symbols of the traditional culture like Grand Ise Shrine or the Kamakura Daibutsu.

Presumably Ishiba was calling loud street protests a kind of terrorism because he thinks such behavior is terrible in the same way we think passengers on an enclosed subway train who are talking loudly on their smartphones — contrary to polite etiquette, common sense and posted prohibitions — are terrible.

By framing opposition as a security matter, almost anything at all could be outlawed if the government so desired and if it could muster enough votes in the legislature.

We can turn the tables and say that the way the LDP government rammed the bill through the Diet last week was an act of terrorism, because it is terrible as are so many other policies and aims of this government and this party. Ishiba knows about terrorism because he’s a terrorist. Of course, LDP spokesmen deny that the bill is intended, or will be used, to prosecute legitimate news reporting or legitimate quests for freedom of information.

One thing we are certain of is that Japanese politicians lie. It’s not that the government is losing our trust or risks losing our trust. The government never had our trust to begin with, only our tolerance.

grant piper
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.