As a son of a local lawmaker, I was very interested in the Jan. 25 article “Dynasty politics: Birthright, not dynamism.” Behind the seshuugiin (hereditary lawmakers), Japan’s centuries of feudalism, especially the Edo Period, appear to have led to thinking in terms of shi-nou-kou-shou (warriors, farmers, artisans, merchants). This hierarchy has continued from generation to generation. Among the advanced nations, Japan has the highest rate of seshuugiin, but worldwide this seems to be a phenomenon — like the Bhutto family in Pakistan.
We are told that to become a statesman, a candidate needs a lot of money because money talks in this world. Between a candidate and supporters, give-and-take relations through money are geared toward profit. Both politicians and supporters inherit this relationship from generation to generation. In Japan, for example, the Hatoyamas are the fourth generation as a political family. Abe and Koizumi are the third, Ozawa the second. So who is, or will be, the fifth generation?
Japan needs leaders like Youzan Uesugi (1751-1822) of what is now Yamagata Prefecture and Takamori Saigou (1827-1877) of what is now Kagoshima Prefecture. They did not think of their own profit in the late Edo Period and early Meiji Era.