“To know the future, look at the past,” is a familiar Buddhist aphorism. However, it’s also said that a prophet isn’t honored in his hometown — which is why I live in Tokyo. As we ride into the Year of the Horse, I thought I’d canter awhile through times to come and report back on what I found. My apologies if some predictions are rather dire and dark; if you’re easily offended, you’re sure to be fuming by the time you finish. So: Off we go . . .
Nuclear energy is the future
Despite lackluster safety approvals by the “independent” Nuclear Regulation Authority, Japan’s nuclear reactors will go back on line. Disasters on epic or minor scales will follow. The release of that information will be slow, inaccurate and deceptive. The nuclear-reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, that’s scheduled to become operational in October, will not do so. Nuclear waste will continue to pile up with no clear place to put it, and the government refusing to admit that the “intermediary” facilities now housing it are there for the long term.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., operators of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, will continue to lie to the public — and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will continue to clean up their mess with our tax money.
Large parts of Fukushima Prefecture will be turned into Japan’s nuclear dump. Billions more yen will be wasted on “the cleanup,” which involves moving radioactive dirt from place to place without actually making anywhere habitable. Trucking and construction companies will benefit tremendously.
Japan will solve the nuclear-security problem mentioned in previous columns by doing background checks. However, they’ll still let the yakuza recruit ex-convicts to labor in the plants because, really, who else would do that dangerous and dirty work?
Leaks about leaks at the Fukushima plant will add to worries about the safety of the 2020 Olympics. Speaking of the Olympics, a prominent member of the Japanese Olympic Committee will be revealed to have shady business and underworld ties, which will further darken the clouds hanging over this already dubious proposition.
The gender gap will be bridged, but . . .
Thanks to tremendous efforts by the Abe administration, Japan’s global gender-gap ranking will soar from 105 out of 136 countries to 104 or possibly 100.
Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso will make Hello Kitty the official women’s empowerment symbol because, “She’s such a cute little pussy and she has no mouth to complain.”
But when asked how Japan can learn to promote work equality, he will riff on a previous gaffe about admiring the way the Nazis bulldozed through constitutional reform, stating, “I think we can learn a lot about women’s rights from Mrs. Hitler.”
Japan’s lifeless stalking laws and their lack of enforcement by police will result in another woman being savagely assaulted or killed after appealing for help to the boys in blue. This will result in entirely ineffective changes to the stalking laws.
The yakuza will continue to adapt
The mooted Criminal Conspiracy Act will be passed, marking the beginning of the end for the yakuza — or not. The mobsters will simply move en masse to the right-wing political and nonprofit groups they use as fronts, which will be shown to be funded by large Japanese corporations.
One of the nation’s leading talent agencies will be conclusively shown to have cosy ties with organized crime. Deep bows and apologies will ensue as its bosses vow to change their thuggish and evil ways. The Japanese media will pretend it hasn’t been ignoring this corrupt situation it’s known about forever — but it won’t make waves for fear of losing its access to celebrities.
The former Miss International, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, will not be asked to pose for any photo spreads in yakuza fan magazines.
As recent legislation renders the yakuza increasingly unable to get bank accounts, housing or health insurance, they will abandon any semblance of their traditional codes and turn increasingly violent.
This will continue until things get so ugly, and society gets so sick of it all, that the remaining 60,000 yakuza (thanks to comprehensive government-sponsored social-reintegration schemes) find well-paid jobs and give up their lives of crime.
The Special Secrets Act will be especially awful
Japan’s lap-dog mass media will continue to be steadily neutered by the Abe regime. The law will come into effect with a sham oversight committee that does nothing to protect press freedom, help whistle-blowers or prevent the authorities’ reckless use of secrets classification privileges.
Japan’s press-freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders will sink to Uzbekistan levels — or possibly stay right up there with Turkmenistan.
The national broadcaster NHK, which will be completely taken over by Abe appointees (if this has already not happened), will not report on this press-freedom issue, but will do a fabulous job as a cheerleading channel for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, shirking coverage of all news they fear their masters would not like them to voice.
The phrases “dispute over the Senkaku Islands” and “sex slaves” will be expunged, never to sully the airwaves again.
Sourcing for articles will become even more vague than at the unattributed present, as everyone fears stepping on a state-secrets land mine — one of “40,000 per year” an Abe apparatchik has estimated will be lying in wait, carefully hidden.
We may see the first reporter or citizen prosecuted for secrets violations, producing a deep chill that will herald a new information ice age in this island country. Or, maybe, a few “voluntary questionings” and police raids will make it feel like it’s 1939 all over again. Banzai!
Abe’s annual visit to Yasukuni Shrine (which embraces the souls of Class-A war criminals along with those of millions of regular fallen warriors) will be declared a state secret and will vanish as an international issue — along with any journalist who writes about it.
By the way, all the information for these predictions was provided by sources in the Abe Cabinet. I have no idea whether any of it constitutes a state secret, but even if it were to be judged so, I’d never reveal my sources — especially Shin-chan.
And even as we enter Japan’s new dark age, I’ll continue striving to be a beacon of light, goodness — and whatever levity I can muster.
Happy New Year !