2012 Dec 152013-02-16

My blog post of 15 December 2012, in English
(The original Japanese is accessible here:  http://hoshinot.asablo.jp/blog/2012/12/15/6660577 )

Tomorrow’s general election will be the worst since the end of the war.  I have never abstained from voting before, but this time I have thought over and over about giving it up.  It’s not so much that I have no candidate to vote for or that I believe that nothing would change in any case; it’s more that I’m fed up with taking part in this society, and it makes me want to refuse. It’s not so much that I don’t feel like going to vote, but rather that I do not want to.

Nevertheless, I am going to vote.  Abstention, which is also a decision that carries responsibility, will not result in my separation from society, and I am not yet ready to throw away my responsibility as someone with the right to vote. This society has yet to establish an electoral system that is fully egalitarian.  The right to vote, in this context, actually carries tremendous power.  I don’t want to get to the point where even this awareness is lost.

I don’t think it’s only the politicians’ fault that the degradations of today’s government has me not wanting to take part in society.  Wielding the most influence, politicians are saddled with the responsibility of society's bad state of affairs, but if we ask ourselves who gave them all this power, it is the electorate. Even without being an authoritarian system, badly unjust elections result in a disconnection with the will of the people. But beyond this situation, I think the degradation of government shows the deterioration of society itself -namely, the degradation of the electorate. What happens in government spaces also happens in society – in companies, communities, homes, schools, and the media, as well as in the courts.  

Therefore, nothing would change even if we call out someone as the scapegoat for all of this.  Quite the contrary, voters’ repetitive disavowal of their own sense of agency has resulted in a rotten electorate, which is why things are now this bad.  

The last general election was supposed to stem the tide of corruption. However, that wave has died down due to the Democratic Party’s weak-mindedness and the lack of voter fortitude. The electorate and media (especially newspapers), who are once more lacking in agency, are mutually escalating one another, driving politics into a state of disrepair.

Far-right rhetoric that previously would have been called reckless or inappropriate has been exchanged in this election campaign. Up until now it would have meant a loss of support and a forced resignation from politics to make the kind of statements that have increasingly become more acceptable in this society today.  For what it is worth, I see the widespread support for such rhetoric as the even more serious problem here. After all, we are supposed to be recovering from the economic and psychological toll of the earthquake, and yet it is clear that funds are being funneled into the military, provoking neighboring states at a time when all that labor and money could be going to devastated areas.  What an indifferent society: such cold hearted voters and politicians. 

What has become clear from the earthquake and nuclear disaster is the devastation of the countryside. We have experienced firsthand the damage caused by this society’s abandonment of rural areas, and the magnitude of the problem is obvious. Therefore, if the government and citizens cannot work together to solve and overcome this problem, changing this society into an anxiety-free one will be impossible. However, in this critically timed election, this society has turned a blind eye to the countryside, and is instead wildly enthusiastic about issues like the military and constitutional reform. This hopelessness, this feeling of despair, is certain to destroy Japanese society.

I don’t want to be dragged into the feelings of resentment and revenge that this society has become obsessed with. Because of what has been seen in these recent events, I do not wish to participate in these elections. However, abstaining from voting will accelerate the spiral of grudge and revenge, so I feel I have no choice but to vote.

I don’t think I can stop this spiral anymore. But perhaps by voting one might slow down its acceleration.  Even if voting means choosing the worst over the “super worst”, there is still meaning in doing it.  Because to surrender to hopelessness would be to surrender oneself to the spiral of hatred and vengeance.

Translated by:
Sakura Lorena Aoyama
SunHa Chun
Isabelle Dansereau
Tammi H.
Remi Hazell
Geneviève Marion
Nicholas Millette
Yukitake Miwa
Vanessa Vyvial