June 24, 2017
Shigeaki Koga Special Interview by Kodansha
Nihon Chusu no Hokai (published in May, 2011 by Kodansha) which depicted the close relationship between bureaucratic organizations and the structure of concession in Kasumigaseki, became a bestselling novel, coming close to sales of 40,000 copies. The author of Nihon Chusu no Hokai is Shigeaki Koga who is a former bureaucrat of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. His new book titled Nihon Chusu no Kyobo is going to be published soon. In this book, he sheds light on the critical situation that Japan is facing and makes proposals to escape from these issues. (2017. 05.10)
Prime Minister Abe’s Political Philosophy —– “Citizens are stupid.”
————Following Nihon Chusu no “Hokai”（Hokai is a Japanese word that means collapse), comes this book, “Kyobo” (Kyobo means mad conspiracy). What kind of feelings are included in this title?
Koga: Initially I had been writing with the title, Nihon Chusu no Inbo (陰謀 Inbo means conspiracy. 陰 In means shadow and can refer to doing something in secret). However, it did not align with exactly what I wanted. People who are in the Nihon Chusu at the moment are not that secretive when they engage in conspiracies. Because of this I had been thinking of options for words that could replace “陰謀” and among them, I had thought of 狂謀 Kyobo. As I was writing the manuscripts, I came to the conclusion that this was the most suitable word for the title.
If I put a strong title, it may intrigue the left-wing people, but for those who are not left-wing, there is a possibility for it to be perceived as a biased book. In spite of this, I decided that I should use this strong word for the title.
One of the words that’s popular among critics of the Trump Administration is “insane.” Similarly to the Trump administration, the Abe administration is taking extreme measures without blinking an eye, which makes me wonder, “do they need to go so far?”
As I observe Security Related Laws, the abolishment of the Three Principles on Arms Exports, and the Act on the Protection of Security Related Designated Secrets, I’m increasingly feeling this sense of crisis that “Japan is about to pass this point of no return.”
Therefore, even though it was a somewhat strong message, I used a title that accurately conveys my thoughts to readers. I hope that my messages will be spread to the public gradually as readers provide feedback.
———–When did you start feeling this strong sense of crisis?
I have been feeling for quite some time that “the Abe administration’s quality is different from the former administrations.
The problem with Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) used to be the problem with economic structure where the LDP cultivated close ties with the group that dominated vested interests and protected their own interests, which lead to the sacrifice of citizens.
In comparison, Prime Minister Abe has been crying out, “I’m implementing structural reform!” But, in actuality, he has done almost nothing. In addition to this, he greatly emphasized that “Japan must become stronger.”
Japan has adhered to its pacifism, and it was a country that did not participate in the Gulf War even when the United States asked Japan to join.
Japan did not export arms and the military expenditure had been less than 1 % of the GDP.
Japan used to be a country that restrained itself and adopted policies to stay away from dangerous locations as much as possible, but the Abe Administration is trying to overturn that entirely.
It was Kenji Goto’s incident in 2015 when my sense of crisis was deepened.
(While an international journalist Kenji Goto became captive as a hostage in the Islamic State, Prime Minister Abe made a speech in Egypt in his series of trips to the Middle East. The speech ended up provoking ISIS.)
———–-At that time you used to appear in Hodo Station as a guest commentator. Your action to put out a flip board that says “I am not ABE” in the show echoed the thoughts of many people.
Koga: It was my last appearance on Hodo Station. The first chapter of this book had already been written soon after my last appearance.
The chapter was titled, “Conspiracy of the Prime Minister,” and I illustrated what the Kantei (Prime Minister’s Official Residence) aimed for regarding the hostage crisis, how they dealt with the incident, and the fact that the type of political philosophy Abe has can be made clear.
If I were to explain Prime Minister Abe’s political philosophy in simple words, it is that “citizens will forget as time passes even if they get angry” and that “they will be distracted if I give them another topic.” In conclusion, his political philosophy is that “citizens are stupid.”
Are we that stupid? No. That’s not true. I continue on writing the manuscript of this book thinking of things like that. An unexpected election took place (the December 2014 election which was held following the breakup of the Lower House of the Diet), and the situation has changed after the election and because of this, I had to rewrite a portion over again, leading to the completion of my novel being prolonged until today.
————- Including Chapter two titled, The Darkness of “Hodo Station,” you deal with the depths of domination by media, and you thoroughly expose the lies of Prime Minister Abe’s Structural Reform policy, Proactive Pacifism and Abenomics.
Koga: I think that Abe holds great guilt for making Japan a country that cannot grow. For example, Japan’s technology in alternative energy is so behind compared to those of European nations. Amid this situation, the Abe administration is planning to completely revive the usage of nuclear energy.
This book deals with various issues such as an analysis of Japanese economic problems, and exposing the truth of the Democratic Parties based on the Tokyo Gubernatorial election last year. Each chapter is related to another, but I arranged chapters so that readers can enjoy picking out the chapters they would like to read.
If you see the table of contents and find a chapter that interests you, you can start reading from there.
Koga: To tell the truth, the manuscript had reached over 500 pages after writing everything I wanted.
Koga: I confided in my editor, asking “it’s too long, isn’t it?” And made it shorter. When I cut about 100 pages, I noticed that if I made the manuscripts even shorter, I would not be able to write what I really wanted to write.
(The final length of the book was 415 pages.)
It is a bit long of a book, but I think it is enjoyable to read, as I wrote things connecting to the behind the scenes of incidents and scandals.
———You energetically engage in activities such as spearheading Forum4, a social movement that advocates both structural reform and pacifism. In the epilogue of this book, you write about what structural reform is truly necessary right now and how we can materialize a country that’s gentle to its citizens.
Koga: This book is not simply about criticising the Abe Administration. I wrote a large quantity on the Democratic Party as well. People often tell me that I always rain on their parades when opposition parties are trying to strive hard by consolidation. But, if the Democratic Party stays as it is, the party’s condition will continue to decline.
First of all, it is important to organize thoughts and send out messages.
In the spring of 2015, Forum4 announced its basic principle of “We want structural reform, but we don’t war.” There is no political party in Japan that sends out such a message.
The structural reform that we advocate is “structural reform to minimize the income gap, and the structural reform that serves the interests of workers and true minorities.”
If people come together in the name of this basic principle, even Japan, as it is coming to the point of no return can escape from this critical situation. I do believe so.”
Think according to “the view that human nature is fundamentally weak”
————When you wrote Nihon Chusu no Hokai, you were an active bureaucrat. I assume that the environment that surrounded you has changed greatly compared to then.
Koga: It’s has changed a lot.
At that time I wrote the book while feeling the tense atmosphere in the METI.
Perhaps, writing the book for me was kind of just me having to write about things that I experienced and things that I already knew just as they were.
It hasn’t worked like that since I resigned from the METI, but a lot of information still reaches me.
For example, with regards to Toshiba that’s in the process of management organization, I convey my views to media outlets when they ask me questions, “what do you think?”
And then, a correspondent asks me, “this person told me this, what did he mean?”
A lot of information comes to me in this way.
In addition, since I have been an advisor for members of the Parliament (MPs) since I was a METI bureaucrat, I am able to learn not only the views of a public servant, but also how MPs think about things in general.
Politics are greatly influenced by psychology. People who are working in the field of politics are making their moves, while thinking not only about the gain of their organization, but also their own personal gain. This is of course the same in economics.
Because the overall flow of economy is like this, if you think about things from the perspective of bureaucrats with their losses and gains, a certain political development is created, and as a result, these politician will make their moves in predictable ways. I think that such factors can be called “political psychology,” and it influences politics greatly.
———– You mention that while mad conspiracy exists, the strength to carry out the right thing doesn’t work. It is memorable that you write one of the reasons for this to be that, “humans are weak.”
Koga: I think about things neither according to the view that humans are inherently good or bad, but rather, according to the view that people are weak by nature.
Most people are not evil, but good people. In most cases, they are doing good things. But once their personal gains and losses are at stake, they will end up feeling as if they “can do it”, that they can cheat.
Simply put, humans are weak.
But in this case, the question of whether one is being watched or not is an important point.
Most people hesitate if they are being watched.
If I were to give a simple example, imagine if a ten thousand yen bill were dropped on the street during the night and when you looked around, there was nobody .
It’s a little bit far from the police station.
In this case, it is easy for one to end up thinking, “let’s take it.”
But if you heard footsteps from behind you and you felt that you were being watched, you would feel as if you had to return the bill to the police.
I think that’s how things are.
It is very important to be watched.
−−−−In that sense, this book is meaningful as it warns officials that, “we are watching them.”
Even if you think you are doing things in secret, there are people who are watching.
Even they try to deceive us by telling a lie, there are people who will notice it.
In the current situation where the media often cannot convey the whole truth freely, it is dangerous if we don’t create the proper environment to do so.
End of Interview
Translated by Japanese Perspective