Lexicon for today’s Japan: Reading between the lies

by Jeff Kingston

Plowing through the news, one is often struck by the proliferation of acronyms, jargon, new names and terms. It can be a baffling experience, so I thought I would provide some explanations, keywords, synonyms, associative notions and interpretations to aid comprehension — even at risk of differing from the prevailing wisdom or PR hype.

“Abenomics”: 1. Deflation-busting policies by government aimed at raising prices, and hopefully wages, that might make the economy grow and make everyone happy if everything works out; 2. Boosting the stock market to make investors and speculators rich while devaluing the yen to promote exports at trading partners’ expense; 3. Making construction firms happy though vast increases in public-works spending; 4. Vague rumor outside of Tokyo where nobody seems to be benefitting; 5. Three-arrow variation on Three-card Monte; 6. Wishful thinking; 7. High stakes, long odds gamble; 8. Protecting vested interests; 9. Trickledown illusion.

“Abegeddon”: 1. What happens if/when Abenomics proves unsustainable, perhaps stoking high inflation and leaving a big mess to clean up; 2. Financial-market implosion; 3. Deep sh-t.

“Abeplomacy”: 1. Blowing it big time; 2. Isolation; 3. Relentless activity, poor results; 4. Slamming doors in neighbors’ faces.

“Abe-history”: 1. Amnesia; 2. Whitewashing;3. Beautifying; 4. Pride; 5. Antagonizing neighbors.

Akie Abe: 1. First Lady; 2. Political opposition; 3. Anti-nuclear campaigner; 4. Helps Abe look good, but no policy influence.

Proactive pacifism: 1. Euphemism for Abe’s security agenda; 2. Branding blather; 3. Gobbledygook; 4. Gutting the Constitution; 5. Bamboozling.

Fukushima: 1. Man-made nuclear disaster; 2. Botched evacuation; 3. Unsolved problem; 3. Incompetence and sleazy shirking of responsibility; 4. Black hole for taxpayers’ money; 5. Fleecing; 6. Shoddy; 7. Nuclear refugees; 8. Nightmare.

Tepco: 1. Tokyo Electric Power Company; 2. Fukushima meltdowns; 3. Denial; 4. Shirking; 3. Whitewashing; 4. Black hole for taxpayers’ money; 4. Nuclear village HQ; 5. Shameless; 4. Branding disaster; 5. Bailout; 6. Incompetence; 7. Shoddy; 8. Unprepared.

Reactor restarts: 1. What Abe is promoting; 2. Answer to utilities’ prayers; 3. What most Japanese voters oppose; 4. Unnecessary risk; 5. Premature evaluation; 6. Nuclear village resilience; 7. Unrehearsed evacuations.

Rokkasho: 1. A $20 billion white elephant; 2. Nuclear fuel reprocessing and nuclear- waste storage facility in Aomori Prefecture; 3. Behind schedule; 4. Cost overruns; 5. Inoperative; 6. Economically unviable.

Kashiwazaki: 1. Tepco nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture; 2. Fault line; 3. 2007 earthquake; 4. Close call; 5. Bottom line; 6. Restart.

Naoki Inose: 1. Anti-nuclear, anti-construction-state politician; 2. One who called Abe a liar; 3. Ex-governor of Tokyo; 4. Set-up; 5. Media myopia; 6. Hit list; 7. Undersized briefcase.

Monta Mino: 1. Formerly popular and ubiquitous TV host; 2. Strident critic of nuclear power and Abe; 3. Set-up; 4. Hit list; 5. Tanning salon.

Tohoku: 1. Forgotten region flattened by a large tsunami in March 2011 and left to whither since; 2. Impoverished backwater of stunning beauty in northeastern Honshu, where dwindling numbers of young people want to live; 3. Shameful neglect.

NRA: 1. Nuclear Regulatory Authority; 2. Nuclear Rebooting Agency; 3. Same guys who averted eyes to safety lapses that led to Fukushima meltdowns; 4. Blindness to fault lines; 5. Veneer of stricter safety; 6. Con the public; 7. Facilitate reactor restarts; 8. Public theater; 9. Nuclear village outpost.

Yasukuni Shrine: 1. Abe’s Achilles’ heel; 2. Diplomatic isolation; 3. Talismanic ground zero for unrepentant wartime history; 4. Self-inflicted wound; 5. Shinto shrine in Tokyo where the souls of Japan’s war dead, along with those of 14 Class-A war criminals, are enshrined; 7. Provocation to victims of Japanese imperialism and aggression; 8. Adjacent to Yushukan Museum, which presents a misleading, glorifying and vindicating narrative of Japan’s widespread aggression in Asia; 9. Place where Taiwanese and Korean conscripts are enshrined against family wishes; 10. Place supporters disingenuously pretend is just like Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

Chidorigafuchi: 1. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; 2. Place near Yasukuni Shrine where Japanese leaders can pay their respects to the nation’s war dead without offending anyone; 3. Secular site for war remembrance without any Class-A war criminals.

Henoko: 1. New home for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (Ginowan City); 2. Place where the giant Futenma base is not likely to be relocated anytime soon; 3. Justification for $3 billion annual payoff by Tokyo to Okinawa; 4. Bribery.

Hirokazu Nakaima: 1. Governor of Okinawa; 2. Betrayal; 3. Sell-out; 4. Mr. Henoko; 5. Shrewd negotiator; 6. Mr. $25 billion; 7. Bait-and-switch.

Shigeru Ishiba: 1. Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP); 2. The thuggish guy who lashed out at anti-secrecy law protesters, likening them to terrorists, and threatened journalists if they did their job; 3. Scary.

Haruhiko Kuroda: 1. Central Banker of the Year, 2013; 2. Mr. Bubble; 3. Patron saint of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and hedge-fund managers; 4. Reckless abandon; 5. Irrational exuberance.

Precariat: 1. Workers in nonregular, poorly paid, dead-end jobs with no job security — now constituting 38 percent of Japan’s entire workforce; 2. Big factor in weak consumption, deflation and declining rates of marriage and fertility; 3. Corporate profits; 4. Abenomics growth sector.

Working poor: 1. Precariat earning under ¥2 million a year; 2. Those disadvantaged by Abenomics; 3. Class-ridden society.

Kakusa shakai: 1. Wide income disparities; 2. Cost of neo-liberal deregulation policies; 3. Incompatible with Japan’s egalitarian norms and values; 4. Significant reason why LDP was ousted from power in 2009 elections; 5. Threat to social cohesion.

Womenomics: 1. Squandered potential of Japanese women; 2. Policies to help women and boost economic growth; 3. Weakness of Abenomics; 4. Rhetorical posturing by Abe.

DPJ: 1. Democratic Party of Japan; 2. Unfulfilled promises; 3. Hapless; 4. Unraveling.

LDP: 1. Liberal Democratic Party; 2. Right-wing conservatives; 3. Vested interests; 4. Opposition to Abe’s structural reforms; 5. One-party dysfunctional democracy; 6. Sclerotic; 7. Corruption; 8. History amnesia.

ADIZ: 1. Air Defense Identification Zone; 2. Only bad if it’s China’s; 3. Sham crisis.

Senkaku: 1. Rocky group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea; 2. Stoking nationalism; 3. Saber rattling; 4. Risky; 5. Inciting China; 6. Worrying Washington.

Diaoyu: 1. Chinese perfidy; 2. Cigarette brand; 3. Beijing’s name for the Senkaku islets in the East China Sea.

Takeshima: 1. Islets in Sea of Japan; 2. Reason for annual Feb. 22 hate-bus convention in Shimane Prefecture; 3. Counterproductive; 4. Nonissue for Japanese people.

Dokdo: 1. Korean name for Takeshima; 2. Unbridled nationalism; 3. Hate Japan; 4. Museum franchise.

NHK: 1. State-controlled media bureaucracy masquerading as journalistic enterprise; 2. Abe cheerleaders; 3. Not Having Kredibility; 4. Nihon Hentai Kyokai (Japan Perverts Association); 5. Inefficiency; 6. Lapdog; 7. Overpaid, underworked; 8. Featherbedding; 9. Censorship.

Special secrets legislation: 1. What government doesn’t want you to know about its skullduggery; 2. Anti-democratic; 3. Poor governance; 4. Cocoon of impunity; 5. Excuse to jail officials and journalists on trumped-up charges; 6. Open season on whistle-blowers; 7. Egregiously wrong; 8. Bureaucracy run amok.

Jeff Kingston: 1. Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan.