Here in Japan, it is the aftermath of the snap elections called by Prime Minister Koizumi, held on September 11, no doubt double-milking the symbolism; an election that was won by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party by a landslide, enabling the LDP and its coalition partner, New Komeito, who now together hold 327 of the Lower House of the Diet's 480 seats, to pass any laws they please. If the ruling class in Japan decided tomorrow that they wish to legislatively categorize the status of the working classes as slaves, they can now pass the law to do so!!
As it happened, the Koizumi strong-handling of the LDP rebels who voted against his “postal reform” bill, and his use of “assassin candidates” to run against the rebel members (all 37 of them), paid off. It also must have been quite helpful to have had the encouraging help of the New Komeito, who, despite their supposed pacifist doctrine of Buddhism, have been strong supporters of Koizumi’s leading of Japan down the path of more militarism.
The financial papers, of course, were ecstatic, to put it mildly. The Economist reported on September 12 (online), that, “Japan’s stock market leapt on the news. The Nikkei rose by 1.6% on Monday, adding to the 7% that it had gained in the month leading up to the vote as the economic outlook grew brighter and as Mr. Koizumi’s lead in opinion polls widened.”
Prime Minister Koizumi managed, with the willing help of the Japanese corporate media (one of the most emasculated in the First World), to portray the elections as a referendum on his proposal for “reforming” the postal service, which in reality is all about looting the assets of the postal service, along with the huge savings account deposits of the Japanese people (and the related insurance-finance capital, that is part of the same public corporation).
This loot, as far as loots go, is much, much huger than the privatization of the British railway system or anything in that league; this loot, according to the Financial Times (September 12, 2005), will pave the way for the transfer of US$3000 Billion into the private sector!!
It is no coincidence that, “Hidenao Nakagawa, LDP’s parliamentary affairs chairman, compared the results to second-term landslide by Margaret Thatcher, former UK premier, and Ronald Reagan, former US president, in the 1980s,” (Koizumi Wins Landslide Victory, Financial Times, September 12, 2005).
As Marx commented, when you are dealing with capitalist development, the “more advanced” nations, at best, portray the destiny of the “less advanced” nations. What is truly sad is that it seems the people of Japan did not really see Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath for what it represented: “privatized” means stolen, and “privatized” everything means all will be lost in good time.
The Economist in its article, “Japan’s voters back Koizumi,” stated without a hint of irony (though you can clearly hear the snickering underneath the prose), “For now, however, Mr. Koizumi will celebrate his victory by starting the process of liberating Japan’s huge pool of savings from the manipulative and unaccountable hands of the state.”
“Liberating” indeed it must be for owners of capital to see the field of maneuver for capital expanded by such an enormous amount. This official voice of the finance capital knows better than most about the fact of privately-owned corporations’ lack of accountability, and their extremely high propensity for manipulating the looks of their accounts and pilfering people’s money. To point to private capital’s lack of accountability, we need mention a single name: Enron!
British citizens can, perhaps better than most, eulogize to the Japanese about the loss of public goods when it comes to losing public goods. The British citizens used to have an excellent railway system. When I was a little child, because of medical conditions that could not be understood by the local doctors operating on me (who nearly killed me . . . no joke), my parents took out a loan and flew me to London, where more able doctors patched me up to better effect, thereby saving my life.
During that time in London, my father became so enamored of the British railway system; I remember that for years after our departure, he would tell animated stories of how precisely on time, and so utterly well organized the British railway system was, and, on top of it all, how affordable, even for a Third World person’s income standards.
By contrast, I have been back in the past few years, and the conditions of the railway system in the UK are atrocious. “Schedules” that are announced are mere wishes and approximations, services are Neanderthal by comparison, prices are outrageous, and excuses heard offered for suspension of services have been as absurd as the existence of leaves on the tracks!
In October of 1999, a major accident (near Paddington Station in London) led to nation-wide stoppages of the British Rail on scales unimaginable. And why? At the time of privatization, the tracks, the trains and the services were sold separately to different companies. This made sure that there existed no central place where all the information pertaining to the running of the entire system could be stored and available in case of extreme emergencies. The railways system, in short, is so screwed up by design so as make it impossible to put it all back together.
So, in due course, Koizumi will do unto the Japanese Postal Service (and its affiliated financial services), what Maggie Thatcher did to the British Railway System: Give it away to private capitalists so they may cannibalize it at will!!
We welcome the people of Japan to the unfortunate hell of their electoral choice!
Other Articles by Reza Fiyouzat
Deeper into Neo-Liberalism
Other Articles by Reza Fiyouzat
Deeper into Neo-Liberalism