Is there a crisis in leadership in Japan? That’s what New York Times writers Hiroko Tabuchi, Ken Belson and Norimitsu Onishi say.
I think a leadership crisis goes far beyond Japan. I make my case below. First, please consider Flaws in Japan’s Leadership Deepen Sense of Crisis
Never has postwar Japan needed strong, assertive leadership more — and never has its weak, rudderless system of governing been so clearly exposed or mattered so much.
Japan faces the biggest challenge since World War II, after an earthquake, a tsunami, and a deepening nuclear crisis struck in rapid, bewildering succession. Japan’s leaders need to draw on skills they are woefully untrained for: improvisation; clear, timely and reassuring public communication; and cooperation with multiple powerful bureaucracies.
Postwar Japan flourished under a system in which political leaders left much of its foreign policy to the United States and its handling of domestic affairs to powerful bureaucrats. Prominent companies operated with an extensive reach into personal lives; their executives were admired for their role as corporate citizens.
But over the past decade or so, the bureaucrats’ authority has been eviscerated, and corporations have lost both power and swagger as the economy has foundered. Yet no strong political class has emerged to take their place. Four prime ministers have come and gone in less than four years; most political analysts had already written off the fifth, Naoto Kan, even before the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
The absence of a strong leader capable of rallying the nation has never been more obvious than in the management of the efforts to contain the growing nuclear crisis.
“In the past, bureaucrats would have been issuing orders without even consulting with politicians,” said Takeshi Sasaki, a political scientist at Gakushuin University. “Now the bureaucrats are no longer involved, and the government keeps holding news conferences, but there is no evidence I can see that it is doing anything beyond that. Japan has never experienced such a serious test. At the same time, there is a leadership vacuum.”
Global Leadership Vacuum
Can someone please tell me where there is leadership?
President Obama has no leadership qualities, nor does the Republican Congress. Chancellor Angela Merkel is rapidly losing her grip on Germany and is unlikely to survive the next election.
Look at the feud between ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet and German central bank president Axel Weber. Look at the battles between Ireland and the EU. Look at the crisis in confidence of the EU itself.
Look at suppression of uprisings in China. Money supply and credit creation are wreaking havoc in China. They have one of the worlds largest property bubbles and they ignore it, even foster it for political expediency.
Look at how miserably President Bush handled hurricane Katrina and look at the Obama administration handling of the Gulf Oil spill.
Look at failed trade negotiations year after year. The G-20 requires agreement from 20 nations to approve anything. It is therefore useless.
The US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. Where is the leadership to do anything about that?
Where is the leadership on pension reform at the national level?
Look at actions by president Bush, Barney Frank, and Alan Greenspan combined. They provided a stunning display of “leadership” to promote financial bubbles.
Greenspan was not much of a leader, but he was one hell of a cheerleader for dot-com companies, for derivatives, for adjustable rate mortgages, and for housing in general. Bernanke was too dimwitted to do anything but follow in Greenspan’s footsteps.
Look at leadership by both the Bush and Obama administrations to bailout the banks and screw the taxpayers. That is “leadership” we certainly could have done without.
What about a $1.6 trillion budget deficit damn near all of it “untouchable” because neither Congress nor Obama have any propensity to look at anything beyond tiny earmarks?
The one area that President Bush did provide ramrod leadership on, just happened to take the US into a preposterously stupid war in Iraq.
Indeed, it is far better to have no leadership than the kind that sent the US into three of the stupidest wars in history: Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
It is also better to have no leadership than what we have from the Fed and ECB.
None of the above excuses inaction by Japan or the lack of information. However, the NYT article paints a misleading if not outright hypocritical picture as if Japan is unique in lack of leadership.
The world is on the brink of credit, currency, derivative, and housing related disasters in numerous countries and all any of the leaders want to do is bail out the banks and the bondholders.
Except for a few brave governors willing to take a stand on solving union-related messes, a crisis in leadership is nearly everywhere you look, especially Washington D.C. and Brussels.
Reflections on Japan Leadership from Japan
Shortly after I wrote the above I received an email from Mike in Tokyo Rogers that inquiring minds will want to read. Please consider Nuclear Melt-Down? The Government to the Rescue
The nuclear power plant failures and explosions near Fukushima, Japan are an excellent case example of the failure of government. Here, the Japanese government has been horribly derelict before, during and after this incident. This freak occurrence would be a tragedy of comical proportions if only it weren’t so grotesque and a real-life horror show. It has been a brutal tragedy of errors that makes me wonder why anyone would trust or believe anything the government says.
I am not talking about just the Japanese government here. I am talking about all governments. All governments lie all the time. It is the nature of government to do so.
As of the writing of this article, the situation at the nuclear power plants keeps getting worse as it has been reported that after the first nuclear power plant’s dome cracked, exploded and is now experiencing at least a partial nuclear meltdown, a second reactor is now in danger of the same.
Interestingly, as of the writing of this article, there were reports that the Japanese government still has not admitted that there has been an explosion at the first reactor plant even though there is video evidence of the event.
Like I said, that anyone would trust what the government says is simply astounding to me.
The nuclear accident is a good example of how a government lies. It shows in undeniable proof of how a bureaucrat changes their story every few hours. Of course, after things gets bad and people die, the politicians always have the excuse that they, “Didn’t want people to panic” so they use this as justification for their fibs. Though they will never admit that they lied or were wrong.
Who knows what’s best for you and your family’s safety more than you do? I’ve worked in mass media. I’ve seen the lies. All I can say is that you must gather all the available information you can – remembering that there are those who have certain motivations for what they pronounce – and judge what’s best for yourself by yourself.
Your life and your children’s lives depend upon it. Take this opportunity to teach your children well… If you don’t teach them, the government will.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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