Monday, 9 April 2007

Media coverage of Shintaro Ishihara's win in the Tokyo gubernatorial elections shows that Australian editors think we have the most at stake in the result.

The first stories came out of Japanese newspaper Web sites, as I noted yesterday. The BBC had a story up before I went to bed last night. But it is very short and is based on exit polls, not the actual count. It is however salutary to note that the BBC was the first foreign news agency to post a free story on the election.

The Straits Times (Singapore) also had a story up yesterday but due to the fact that their content is not free, I have no way of knowing what it said. Ditto with the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong).

For those wanting background you must read the story posted yesterday by the International Herald Tribune. William Pesek for Bloomberg News notes the low quality of the alternative candidates, who he labels "a highly eccentric group". Tellingly, he also says: "Japan is essentially a one-party state." Further, he says that Japanese politicians are not worried about losing their jobs. Because of this, they are contemptuous of the needs of the people they allegedly represent.

Which brings me to the best coverage so far, coming to us in the form of a syndicated item from Agence France Presse that was published at 5am today on The Australian's Web site. The by-line is "From correspondents in Tokyo".

"With 99 per cent of votes counted, Mr Ishihara had 50.99 per cent of the total," which means that about 20 per cent of the city's 10 million eligible voters elected him. Tokyo's economy is the same size as Australia's.

But let's look at Ishihara's arrogance, on display during his interaction with reporters following the announcement.

After his re-election, he turned to his frequent confrontational approach with reporters when one asked whether he would alter the Olympic bid.

"What part of it should I review? Tell me. What do you know about the plan?" Mr Ishihara said of the Olympics.


He has also come under fire recently for awarding a government art project to his son and for racking up large bills on overseas trips - paid for with taxpayers' money.

Asked about the scandals, Mr Ishihara said, "I've answered that question many times in detail. Please go read the transcripts of the assembly meetings".

An Australian politician would never treat reporters with this much contempt, even immediately following an election victory, for fear of being lablelled 'arrogant'. Australian voters do not like to feel that the politicians who represent their interests take their support for granted. Ishihara demonstrates in these remarks that he is supremely confident and will continue to pursue his detestable policies in the future.


Ron said...

Mr Dean ... you're becoming very political here.

May I remind you, Sir, of this comment and perhaps this one too?

(Don't take offence, this is written tongue-in-cheek.)

Matthew da Silva said...

Hi Ron,
Sorry for appearing to have double standards. My intention is to a) highlight Murakami's objections (recently bolstered by those of Oe) to resurgent nationalism in Japan and b) show how the global media treats the elections.