Sep 29, 2011

L'analphabète (The Illiterate)

I've just finished reading Agota Kristof’s "L'analphabète", which means "the illiterate" (I can't read French, so I read the Japanese translation "文盲".)

Agota Kristof was born in the countryside of Hungary in 1935 (between World War I and World War II). The place where and the time when she was born made her life harsh.

After World War I Hungary became independent from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In World War II Hungary fought with Nazi Germany and after the war Hungary came under the control of the Soviet Union. The destiny of Hungary and Agota Kristof was full of sufferings.

When the Hungarian rising happened in 1956, she escaped from Hungary to Swiss. At that time she could only speak Hungarian and she began to learn French while working at a small factory in the countryside.

In 1986 her first novel "Le Grand Cahier (the Notebook)", which was written in French, was published and was highly regarded. I don't know how she had lived in these 30 years.

She wrote in the end of "L'analphabète" as follows. (I wasn't able to obtain English translation of this novel, so I translated it from Japanese translation.)

I know that I will never be able to write in French as well as native French authors, but I will try to write the best thing that I can write.

I have not chosen this language. The destiny happened to impose this language on me by chance.

I cannot avoid writing in French. This is a challenge.

Yes, it is a challenge of an "analphabète".


I'm really lucky that I don't have to escape from Japan, but if I want to communicate with people overseas, I have to use English. In fact I don't have any other choices, much like how Agota had to use French to express her own thoughts.

I'm also an "analphabète" of English but I try to connect to the world through "English".

Sep 27, 2011

The Grammar of Fashion

A fun part about a journey is watching people walking on streets.

When I made a trip to New York this summer with my wife, we ate breakfast at Dean and Deluca and saw people walking to their offices. We found fashion in New York were far more various than in Tokyo. The varieties of colors of their hair, skins and eyes, their height and weight, and their cultural background make their fashion so various. On the other hand we, people living in Tokyo, wear all kinds of uniform. I wear "salary man" outfit and young girls playing at Shibuya wear young girl outfits playing at Shibuya.

New Yorkers' fashion was quite various and well-ordered at the same time. I had a dinner at Union Square Café in New York, which wasn't an expensive restaurant but a cozy restraint where we saw an old couple celebrate the anniversary of their marriage. All customers there wore nice and cozy outfits, which were adequate for the atmosphere of Union Square Café. I thought that New Yorkers kept "the grammar of fashion," which defined the outfits to wear at particular places, times and occasions.

My wife said that university students in Japan are more fashionable (at least care about their fashion more) than students in the US, who always wear hoodies with the logo of their own university or GAP and backpacks, like Zuckerberg in the movie "Social Network" (it might be my stereotype for about them.)

On the other hand, students in Japan (of course including male students) always care about their own hairstyle (although in my school days, most male students didn't care about their fashion at all, so I'm not fashionable now.)

But Japanese people didn't import the grammar of Western fashion but the elements of Western clothing. Sometimes Japanese people wear inadequate outfits, because we don't know the grammar of fashion. For example, some university students bring Louis Vuitton's bags to their class.
(see Kyary Pamyu Pamyu)

When I'm in Europe, I feel the presence of the class. The class, which they belong to, defines their fashion. Only the members of the particular class are implicitly entitled to have Louis Vuitton's bags. Of course there are rich people and poor people in Japan, but the difference between them is quantitative. In Europe the difference between classes is qualitative.

Some Western fashion designers give great attention to Japanese street fashion. As I mentioned, people on Japanese street coordinate their clothing without the grammar of Western fashion, so Western fashion designers see Japanese street fashion as new and fresh.

Inamoto, an old friend of mine, gave a comment to my weblog as follows.


People could try many different ways freely without "dregs" about the things which are imported from other cultures, such as Jazz in Japan, R&B, Rock and Hip Hop in Jamaica and Rock in the UK.

In the process of spreading cultural elements overseas they would be put in all new contexts and given new meanings.

Sep 24, 2011

The Spirit of Rock's Spread All over the World!

I wrote that Hip Hop killed Rock on this weblog "The Song for All of the Stupid Boys in the Word". Inamoto, who is an old friend of mine, gave me a comment that Rock wasn't dead and linked to this video from "Heimin Shinbun" (this entry is full of amazing videos!)

When I watched this video, I literally laughed out loudly.

I don't know who he is at all. He might be a Russian, because the title of this video looks like Cyrillic letters (although I'm not sure that they are really Cyrillic letters.)

He looked over sixty years old, so I guess that he's played Rock since the era of the Soviet Union. I have no idea how pop music was in the era of the Soviet Union, but he might like British Rock, because he played a riff from Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water."

He was playing the guitar like crazy and shouted, "ROCK 'n' ROLL", on the street but nobody gave him a tip or even looked at him. I really want to give him a tip, but I'm disappointed that I can't. He had the real spirit of Rock.

The origin of Rock was the dance music played by black musicians in early 1950s called "Rock 'n' Roll". Little Richard or Chuck Berry couldn't even imagine their music spreading overseas to te Soviet Union and such an old rocker playing Rock on the street in Russia, could they?

Pop music is traveling all over the world. After black musicians made up "Rock 'n' Roll," white musicians began to play it and musicians in UK sophisticated it into "Rock". Jamaican musicians, who were inspired by Rock, developed Reggae. Immigrants from Jamaica to New York were one of the roots of Hip Hop music.

And then I, living in the Far East of the world, met an old Russian musician playing Rock on the street with the real Rock spirit through the Internet. It's a miracle, isn't it.

Sep 21, 2011

Woody Allen, Spike Lee and "Empire State of Mind" in New York

I can't say that I love it, but at least I like the movie "When Harry met Sally", which is one of Meg Ryan's (many) romantic comedies. Of course it wouldn't change anyone's life but it's good enough for two hours of entertaiment and I have it on DVD.

Back then, Meg Ryan was really cute and dominated the Hollywood romantic comedy scene. I also like Billy Crystal (I can laugh at him more than Tom Hanks), who played opposite. The script of this movie written by Nora Ephron is excellent. "When Harry met Sally" is a so called "well-made" comedy, like Billy Wilder's "The Apartment".

(Shirley MacLaine was so cute!)

In addition the beautiful scenes of New York City in every season in this movie are wonderful. The DVD also has an interview with the director, Rob Reiner. In this interview he spoke about how he and his stuffs looked all over New York City for beautiful places where Woody Allen hadn't yet shot. I think that their efforts got rewarded for these beautiful scenes. (Rob Reiner was born in Bronx, as was Woody Allen.)

When I see places where I know in movies, it somehow makes me happy. If it's a favorite place, I'll be even happier. New Yorkers are lucky, because Woody Allen shot many films there. It's really wonderful that they can see the street, fashion and atmosphere of New York in such beautiful and sweet films as "Annie Hall" or "Manhattan" whenever they want.

Woody Allen's New York might be nostalgic (he is alive but shoot films mainly in Europe, now), but New Yorkers now have Spike Lee shooting post 9/11New York.

In this video Spike Lee said, "'Empire State of Mind' became the anthem of New York City".

I named this weblog "A Daily Life in Uptown Tokyo". I love Tokyo and I want to convey how attractive "a daily life in uptown Tokyo" really is. But my ability to describe it is so limited. There were a lot of literary works about good old Tokyo, written by the authors born in Tokyo such as Soseki Natsume, Ryunosuke Akutagawa and so on, but I can't find the author who expresses the attractiveness of today's Tokyo. I hope that we, people born in Tokyo, will one day have our own Tokyo Woody Allen or Spike Lee and "Empire State of Mind" of Tokyo (How about "Tokyo Tower of Mind"?)

a bonus track; Spike "Ernie" Lee!

Sep 19, 2011

DJing, MCing, Breaking and Graffiti Writing

I've studied American culture (especially pop culture) for many years. Although "studying" sounds something useful, but I don't have any useful purpose of studying American culture but only for pleasure, so it may be just a hobby for me.

There leave two major areas in American pop culture, which I haven't studied yet. They are "Disney" and "hip hop". I'm sure that I'll never be interested in Disney, but I've thought that someday I would get into hip hop.

My wife is addicted to Korean girls pop music. Now her favorite group is f(x) (Don't ask me who they are. I don't almost know f(x) at all.) and one of its members is Korean American, who sings rap and wears hip hop fashion. When my wife had a question about American culture, she would ask me about it. At this time my wife asked about hip hop fashion, but I couldn't answer her question. So I thought that it was good chance to begin to study hip hop culture.

I listened to pop music most in 1980s when I was aged between 13 and 23 years old. 1980s was the earliest days of hip hop music and I've listened to Run-D.M.C's "Walk This Way" and watched Spike Lee's film "Do the Right Thing" and they were quite cool for me, but I didn't follow hip hop after that.

Run-D.M.C. "Walk This Way"

"Do the Right Thing" opening

I thought (and think now) that 1980s' music was so commercialized and disgusting. Of course I checked Billboard's top 100 charts at least but became preoccupied with rock and funk music in late 1960s and 1970s, which I mainly listen to now. Since then I've turned off contemporary pop music including hip hop music.

I began to listen to hip hop music from "old school" such as Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. I feel comfortable with them, because old school hip hop was influenced by funk music in 1970s, which I'm familiar with, such as Afrika Bambaataa duetted with James Brown (no, in hip hop they never use the word "duet") Afrika Bambaataa featured James "godfather of soul" Brown in "Unity". When I listen to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "Freestyle", I find the enchantment of rap.

"Unity" Afrika Bambaataa featuring James Brown

"Unity" live Afrika Bambaataa

"Freestyle" Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Afrika Bambaataa defined four elements of hip hop; DJing, MCing (rap), breaking (dance) and graffiti writing. I wondered why he defined these four elements but three elements; music, dance and graffiti. I thought that "music, dance and graffiti" were more natural than "DJing, MCing, breaking and graffiti writing". Why did Afrika Bambaataa divide music into DJing and MCing? I guess that it is the key concept of hip hop music.

In rock music there isn't the concept of DJ in hip hop. Rock musicians basically compose and play their own songs and sometimes cover other musicians' songs. In radio Disk Jockeys select songs playing on their programs, but Disk Jockeys aren't essential for rock music but just contingent on it. We don't think Disk Jockeys create something. I was used to rock music system, so at first I couldn't understand the meaning of DJ in hip hop.

But in hip hop DJ is essential for its music. DJs are selecting, editing, sampling and mixing music that they think to be cool. DJing; selecting, editing, sampling and mixing music, is to create something new. The song "Apahe", which originally was played by the Shadows, was remixed by many DJs.

Apahe medley

I'll listen to hip hop music from old school to contemporary. Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash are real street music, but Kanye West and Jay-Z smell commercialized like 1980s' rock music.

Sep 17, 2011

The Result of English Education in Japan

I heard that the average TOEFL score of Japanese examinees was lower than the examinees from other Asian countries. Some people criticized the English education in the Japanese public education system based on this data. (Not only English but all public education might be criticized.)

In fact it might be difficult to learn English skills, which are suitable for practical use, only through public education, but it doesn't necessarily mean that English education in Japanese schools has critical problems. Generally I don't expect so much from the public education system and I think that we should accept that the fact that the public education system can't provide practical skills not only in English but also in the other subjects for students. School hours are limited and there are a lot of things to be taught. If a student wants to acquire a practical skill, they should learn it not only in their schools but also by themselves. The minimum mission of public education is to provide the basis of self-leaning after graduation from their schools. And the levels of English skills that each student requires are various but the public education system should be standardized and common to all schools, so the public education system can't aim for a level of English skills that is too high.

I have written the weblog "A Daily Life in Uptown Tokyo" for nine months. I have become able to express almost everything that I want to express in English and the readers of my weblog might understand what I want to say judging from their comments.

In my weblog I have used only English grammar which I learned in my high school (I don't know the level of English grammars which are taught in high school nowadays). Of course I couldn't write this weblog when I graduated from the high school. After that, my English skills have got better through education at the university, self-learning and business, but I learned the basic knowledge about English through high school education.

Students can't have enough experiences of using English to get English skills. Class hours are limited and the numbers of one class are too many to learn practical English. Native Teaching Assistants aren't enough, either. I myself had never used English for a practical purpose before and communicated using English until I graduated from high school. It was natural that I couldn't get practical English skills only through high school education. But I doubt the public education system should ensure that students get practical English skills. I think that most students don’t actually master English skills educated whilst being educated in high school. If this is the case, the public education system needs to reduce the class hours of other subjects other than English in order to make high school students’ English skills improved. I don't know the appropriate balance between class hours of subjects, but it might cause side effects to increase class hours of English.

I practically had to use English, when I majored in cultural anthropology in university. To tell the truth there were few anthropologists in Japan and little achievement by Japanese anthropologists, so I had to read a pile of papers written in English in order to write a graduation thesis. At first it took a long time to read a page of papers and I was afraid that I could finish my thesis, but the more I read English papers, the faster I could read them. At the end I could manage to finish my thesis before the deadline. It's necessary to read a good amount of books or papers in English in order to get a practical ability to read English, and I had these chance to read English at university. Although my thesis adviser said to me that I could barely read English, I became to be able to read English, because I had gotten a basic ability of English in my high school days.

After I got a job, I also had the need to read documents published by foreign governments and international organizations through the Internet. Formerly I made business trips to interview oversees (most interviewees were non English native speakers) and exchanged e-mails in English to the persons in charge of foreign subcontractors. Whenever I have to use English on business, I could manage to perform the job and my English improved.

Recently I'm enjoying learning English. On my way to the office I listen to the ESL Podcast or news programs in English on podcast. I have my compositions corrected on lang-8 and, as I mentioned, I try to write on weblog, twitter and facebook in English. At least my writing ability in English has improved.

But one of the main problems with the English education in Japanese public education system is teaching proper pronunciations. I took a Chinese language class at university. Since Chinese has many pronunciations that Japanese doesn’t have, it’s difficult for Japanese people to master Chinese pronunciations. Our teacher took plenty of time to train pronunciations early in our class. I'm just a beginner of Chinese, but I can pronounce Chinese better than English. I don't have any experience where Chinese speakers don’t understand what I say in Chinese. But I can't distinguish between "R" and "L", so sometimes I can't communicate in English that well. I wish I could have mastered English pronunciation when I began to learn English in junior high school. Now I have the opportunity to get used to conversations in English, but it’s difficult to correct my English pronunciation.

In Japan English education in primary school is being discussed I don't mind it. To master a foreign language, learners have to be immersed in it deeply for a certain amount of time and they can't do it only in public education. It may be no matter when students begin to study English. The only thing which I want to advise is teaching pronunciation enough at the beginning of English education.

Sep 13, 2011

Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961

On a TV program about 9.11, I watched a part of Eisenhower's farewell address, which is famous for pointing out the danger of "the military-industrial complex".

I was really impressed by that part of his address, so I read through it from start to end. And then I got more impressed and I thought that it was worth reading it for Japanese people, so I translated it into Japanese.

At a farewell address, a speaker can talk about whatever they really wants to say, because they are freed from their duty and don't need to take account of it, and for that reason, the farewell address reveals the speaker's personality. In this sense I think that Eisenhower was one of the greatest presidents of the US.

Many things, including the Vietnam War, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and 9.11, have happened in the US and the world after the Eisenhower's administration, so I guess that most American people might have mixed feelings about this address (it sounds so naive now, doesn't it?), but I found some bright prospects of the US in it.

He talked about the goal and the ideal image of the US again and again. American people built the US artificially in order to create the ideal nation. So it's natural that the nation has its own goal.

But for most Japanese people, there is no particular goal for our nation. The Japanese think that Japan has just existed through the ages without any purpose, like natural creatures such as Mount Fuji. (Aristotle said that natural creatures had their own purpose, "hou heneka", didn't he?)

I think that Eisenhower pointed out the danger of "the military-industrial complex", because he had the clear ideal image of the US and "the military-industrial complex" was apparently far different from his ideal.

Now we, Japanese people, have to reform our nation in order to prevent a recurrence of the accident of nuclear plants. I wonder if we can and should share the goal and the ideal image of the nation of Japan.

Sep 11, 2011

How to Brush Teeth

Recently I went to a dentist after a long time. He told me that I didn't have any cavites but I should learn how to brush my teeth because my teeth were stained.

A week later I went to the dentist again and his assistant taught me how to brush my teeth. I'll write about the points of brushing teeth in order to follow her advice.

You should choose a brush with small, soft and slight bristles. It's better if top of its bristles is flat.

An electrical brush is also good, if its bristles meet these criteria. You can brush your teeth faster by using an electrical brush rather than an ordinary brush. But it doesn't mean that an ordinary brush isn't good at all.

You don't need toothpaste when you brush your teeth. You can't brush your teeth with toothpaste for long enough and look at how you brush your teeth. If you like to use toothpastes, you should put a small amount of toothpaste about the size of a green pea on your brush.

It isn't bad to use mouthwash after brushing teeth, but using it doesn't substitute for brushing teeth. You should brush your teeth to wash out stains first, and then you use mouthwash.

holding a brush
You should hold a brush lightly like a pencil. Don't hold it too tightly.

brushing teeth
You should brush your teeth softly, one by one moving your brush from up to down. It's easier to brush a back tooth, if you don't open your mouth too widely.
And then you should brush the base of your teeth. You put your brush on the base at an angle and vibrate it around softly.

timing of brushing teeth
It's good to brush teeth after eating something. It's especially important to brush them before going to the bed, because bacteria are growing in your mouth while you are sleeping.

That's it.

After her lecture, I immediately bought an electrical brush through Now I feel that my teeth are smoother than before the lecture.

Sep 9, 2011

I'm Not Alone in This Enormous World.

I'm writing journals on two weblogs; one is written in Japanese, the other is in English (this weblog), every other day.

I've written Japanese journals for fourteen years and English ones for nine months. Recently I'm enjoying writing English ones but getting tired of writing Japanese ones.

Since the disaster of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plants, I've been thinking about the democracy of Japan seriously. It may be an exaggeration, but this disaster was the conclusion of Japanese democratization after the defeat of World War II, as if the defeat of World War II was the conclusion of Japanese modernization after the Meiji Restoration.

I wrote many journals about Japanese politics and governments, and democracy itself on both of Japanese and English weblogs since 3.11.

But I haven't gotten almost any reasonable comment on my Japanese journals about them. They'er are full of superficial blames and anger at TEPCO and the government in Japanese mass media and Internet, but I haven't been able to find any deep consideration about the causes of this disaster or any fundamental proposition about the reform of Japanese governments and democracy.

I've got tired of writing journals about this disaster and Japanese democracy, because I've felt as if I was the only one who thinks about such things.

But I've got many brilliant comments on my English journals about them. I translated Haruki Murakami's speech about the earthquake and the accidents of nuclear power plants ("Haruki Murakami's Speech on Catalonia International Prize "As an Unrealistic Dreamer"") into English. I'm really glad that so many people understood my translation and gave me many excellent comments. I know that there were many people all over the world who cared about this disaster in Japan and shared the same concern with me.

Haruki Murakami himself rarely appears in public places in Japan, but he casually gives lectures and speeches in foreign countries. I can guess the reason why he doesn’t like to appear in Japan.

Tony, a friend of mine on lang-8, who always writes quite intellectual journals and comments, gave me a comment below.

Isn't the same thing happening in Japan at the moment, as a result of the natural disaster and the resulting nuclear accidents? It appears to me that many people who never even thought of questioning the decisions of politicians and corporations before are asking how the decisions were made which contributed to the severity of the nuclear accidents. Would you describe that as questioning the principles on which Japanese democracy is based? Certainly it involves questioning how Japanese democracy actually functions in practice.

This is exactly what I want to say.

And then, 252, another friend on lang-8 from France, gave me a comment.

It is a great pleasure to read that many people over the world also think that our political systems have to change and that it's worth fighting for increased democratization.

When I read them, I think that I'm not alone in this enormous world, even if I'm lonely in Japan. And I smile a little to myself.

Am I being too sentimental?

Sep 7, 2011

Alexis de Tocqueville’s "De La Democratie en Amerique (Democracy in America)"

I read Alexis de Tocqueville's "De La Democratie en Amerique (Democracy in America)" (not in French original but in Japanese translation) during my trip to the US.

De Tocqueville was a politician and a historian in the French Revolution. He took a journey to the U.S. before the Civil War and wrote this book, which was published in 1835.

It's really interesting and worth reading even nowadays because de Tocqueville was quite insightful, of course; but there are three other important reasons.

The first reason is the era when Tocqueville studied the U.S.

Of course the U.S. have changed significantly in the past 175 years. He wrote that the federation and the president didn't have much power in the U.S and pointed out the possibility of breakup of the federation. In fact the U.S. divided at the Civil War.

But after Lincoln reunited the U.S., the power and the authority of the president became more stable. Franklin Roosevelt expanded the authority of the president and the federal government through New Deal Program and World War II.

But the principles of American democracy have remained unchanged since the age of the American Revolutionary War. Now the American governmental organizations have become so complicated that it's more difficult for us to see the principles of American democracy than the age of Tocqueville. We can understand the principles of the American democracy more clearly through its primordial form, which de Tocqueville described in his book.

The second reason is that de Tocqueville observed American democracy objectively.

He didn't completely agree with American democracy and often criticized it. American people believe in the principles of their own democracy, even if the actual government isn't perfect. They think that they are universal and ideal, but de Tocqueville thought that it was quite unique. I completely agree with de Tocqueville and I think that many people all over the world other than Americans might agree with us.

Since American people believe in only their own democracy, they can't imagine that there could be other ways of democracy. They can't find the preconditions that their democracy is based on and compare the advantages and disadvantages of other "democracies".

They think that they should spread "American" democracy throughout the world, but they have failed in many countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, because they ignored the precondition of "American" democracy.

After World War II the U.S. army occupied Japan for seven years and they restructured the Japanese government. Japanese government had became far more democratic before World War II but after Japan gained independence again "American" democracy became to be "Japanized". (I'd like to write about the "Japanization" of "American" democracy in this weblog.)

The third reason is that de Tocqueville also objectively observed "democracy" itself.

As I wrote, American people living in "American" democracy can't observe their own democracy objectively. In a similar way we, living in democratic countries, can't observe "democracy" itself objectively.

But de Tocqueville, living in the age of French revolution, experienced both of the revolution to democracy and the retroaction to monarchy. He supported democracy but he found the disadvantages of democracy and the advantages of monarchy.

I studied cultural anthropology at the university. Anthropologists, who observe other societies, get not only the knowledge of these societies but also an objective views of their own societies. When we read "De La Democratie en Amerique (Democracy in America)", we can observe our "democracy" objectively.

Sep 5, 2011

Please Wait for Me, Mr. President.

August 1st is the anniversary of my company. It's a holiday for the company and every year a golf competition is held, because it's a weekday and the price of playing golf is cheaper than on the weekend.

I don't have a car, so I took a train to the golf course carrying my caddy bag on my back. My score, which I don't want to write about, was 67-52. I got the big wave prize, which means that the difference of the score between the first half and the second half is greatest.

The good thing about not driving a car is being able to drink beer after playing golf. Although people who drove a car to the golf course drank beer without alcohol (of course real beer tastes far better than non-alcoholic beer!), I enjoyed the "real" beer at the party after the competition.

When the party was over, I looked for someone who could drive me home and I stood up and said, "Is there someone who will go near Zoshigaya?" And then, I was surprised that the president of my company (at the present day, is he called "CEO"?) said, "I'll take you home, because it's on my way." I was so afraid about what I should talk in one-on-one with him for more than an hour.

While I spent an hour with him in his chauffeur-driven car, which was like a submarine with him, I came to understand his personality quite well (his personality is the top secret of the company, so I can't write about it openly here) and he might know who I was. Anyway it was precious time for me, but I was wondering how I would decline taking his car at the next competition.

That night I had a nightmare.

I was standing at the roadside carrying a caddy bag on my back. I seemed to be waiting for the president to pick me up. His huge black car came to me, but it didn't stop and passed by. The shielded, black rear window opened and the president's face appeared. He shouted out "run, yagian, run!" I couldn't understand what happened, but I started running after the car.

The heavy caddy bag dug at my shoulder. It stopped at a crossing and I caught up with him. But the light turned green and it started. The president opened the window again and shouted out "run, run, run" laughing with a full smile. I wanted to say, "Please wait for me, Mr. President", but my voice didn't come from my throat.

I just kept running, wondering if I could play golf after running after the car to the golf course.

Sep 3, 2011

It's the End of the Ozawa Era and Time to Build New Japanese Democracy.

Yoshihiko Noda became a new leader of The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and a new Prime Minister of Japan. I'll write about the significance of this news.

You can understand the background of Mr. Noda's becoming a new Prime Minister by the journal "The new Prime Minister" (from "En Route"). And I showed my view of Japanese politics in my journal "Is Japan Really a Democratic Country?". If you have enough time to read them, these journals will help you understanding today's journal.

As I wrote in the journal "Is Japan Really a Democratic Country?", Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) administration had continued for over fifty years since 1955. Japanese people actually didn't have any alternatives of LDP and we couldn't change policies of Japanese government through voting. The sub-governments (, which are groups, usually consisting of politicians, bureaucrats and special interests, controlling public policy in a particular area) were pursuing their own special interests under LDP administration.

Of course LDP and the sub-government had serious problems. I think that one of the main reasons why Japanese economy and society has been flagging for twenty years, which are called "lost twenty years (失われた20年間)". Junichiro Koizumi and Ichiro Ozawa are the most important politicians in the past twenty years, because they had been trying to break down LDP administration and ruling by the sub-governments.

Ichiro Ozawa used to be one of the most up-and-coming politicians belonging to LDP, and many people thought that he would be a leader of LDP, which meant he would became a Prime Minister. But in 1993 he and his fraction made a break from LDP and he established non-LDP administration, the Hosokawa cabinet, which had lasted for only a year. And then LDP got back to its power.

Junichiro Koizumi, belonging to LDP, had been a Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006. He tried to break down the ruling by the sub-governments from the inside of LDP. He always said, "I will destroy LDP" and made Japanese postal service, which was one of the strongest sub-government, private. He himself was getting more popular but at the same time LDP was losing Japanese people's support.

Ichiro Ozawa had been trying to build an opposition party, which could be an alternative of LDP. He joined DPJ, which was founded by Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan in 2003. Ozawa and Hatoyama used to belong to the same fraction of LDP, so they shared the same thought. But Ozawa and Kan conflicted each other at heart and just shook hands just in order to take over the administration.

In 2009 DPJ got the majority in the house and Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan became Prime Ministers in turns. Ichiro Ozawa himself hasn't been a Prime Minister, but his political goal, which is building an alternative party of LDP, had accomplished. But DPJ administration didn't work well because of conflicting between Ichiro Ozawa and Naoto Kan. I think that the Ozawa era and his historical mission has ended now.

After Yoshihiko Noda was elected the leader of DPJ, he said "No side." We, Japanese people really want politicians who actually will solve many problems that we are facing. I hope that the generation of Ozawa, Kan and Hatoyama should leave political arena now. It's time to end the destruction of the old regime and to build new Japanese democracy by new generations.

I'd like to quote a passage of Dwight D. Eisenhower Farewell Address delivered 17 January 1961.
Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.