Monday, 31 August 2009

For relaxing times...

Noodles which used to cost £3 now cost £5. Train tickets that used to cost 80p now cost £1.20 Hostel rooms that used to cost £15 a night now cost £25. But you know, I can't complain:

That's me and a bottle of Suntory Whisky. It cost 494円, £3.50.

Today is wet and cold.

Which makes a change from the last few days which have been damp and hot. But yes, I had a cold, wet, lazy day, where I wandered around Ueon and Akihabara WHERE I FOUND SOME REAL NICE MOCHI:

Then I bought some whisky and came back to the hostel.

In a fairly exciting development, I've been invited to the JCP's 87th "Anniversary Lecture Meeting" on the 9th of September. Shut up, it will be more interesting than the name suggests~ Before that starts there will be an "Street Life Labour Discussion". Which seems to be one of these. It's nice to feel that my connection with the JCP won't end just because the election's over. I'll definitely get involved at Doshisha. Interestingly enough, according to one of my friends in the JCP, Kyoto, which is known for being all traditional and shit, is the most left leaning area of Japan. To have a go at amateur political sociology, it reminds me a bit of the of the American political situation versus the European one. In a young country like America, people cling to politics and culture that feels traditional, conservative, while in Europe where there is no question of historical infancy, progressive politics are not a threat to the national self-image. Or maybe it's just because Kyoto's a university town. Anyway, with another election coming up in July 2010, I'm going to paint the town Red. LOL.

Sorry for the slightly bitty blog. I'm going to drink whisky and read. Night!

Sunday, 30 August 2009


The exit polls were a fair bit off and my initial enthusiasm wasn't warranted.

The DPJ won 308 seats to the LDP's 119.
The Communists and the Social Democrats trod water at 9 and 7 seats respectively, the same as the last election.

In the absence of gains by these parties, it is difficult to read this election and a step towards the Left. More than the DPJ winning, the LDP lost. Policy was largely irrelevent in the face of a generic desire for 'change'.

What this election means practically is yet to be seen. Japanese politics has always been very factional, with competitions between factions within a party often being more influential than competition between parties. The DPJ has many diverse factions, ranging from those advocating social democray on the left, to those led by dissatisfied ex-menbers of the LDP on the right.

Any question of "where now for Japanese politics?" can only be answered by looking at the factional balance within the DPJ.

Of their known policies, their most significant positive ones include making public high school free for all students (Japan is currently the only developed nation where state high schools have tuition fees) and their offer of child-raising benefits could be the first step towards a system that encourages child-birth (and hopefuly not to the exclusion of womens' career development) and set about undoing Japan's aging society.

Their most worrying policy is to reduce government spending by cutting down the number of seats in parliament. The seats to go would almost certainly be those awarded by PR and this would do real and lasting harm to the health and diversity of Japan's democracy.

I feel sorry for the girls and guys at the JCP, they are a dedicated and pasionate lot who put time and energy into the cause of social good. Their story will not be told by the mainstream media, but it is an example others could learn from.

It dawns on me that the only election I've ever actively followed and taken an interest in that has gone as I hoped, was the American Presidential Election. The first election I voted in was the London Mayoral. We know how that turned out. Then there was the European Parliament. Which kind of made me loose hope for humanity. While this is nowhere near as bad as those two (and no, I'm not comparing Borris Johnson to the British National Party. He's a harmless toffish annoyance. Like an angry hampster in a top hat.) It's a bit of a disapointment that "my team" didn't do better. C'est la vie~

Onwards and Upwards

I give up. There's no point in going on. I won't kill myself, but I'll have to seclude myself in the moutains. I mean, why go on when I can never in my life be as good as these men?

So I went to Harajuku today. Which was pretty good. Although I'm biding time until University starts. I really don't have the money to buy anything/go out drinking/clubbing/travel. I'm sure I'll meet up with my friends at some point, but for now they're difficult to get hold of. And it's pretty difficult to do any studying when staying in a hostel. Which is not a big deal. And I'm really glad I was around to be able to participate in a major election. But I do feel perhaps I was a bit eager to jump the gun and leave England, without enough thought about having time to spend with people in England/what I would be doing in Japan.

But things will probably pick up?

OH yeah, I was scouted, I think I'll be doing some modeling for some Japanese stylist next week? So that's pretty amusing. Maybe I'll take up Rockabilly dancing.


The Democratic Party of Japan have won at least 321 seats in the Diet, according to exit polls. Over 220 more than in the last election.

The Communist Party have won at least 13, but perhaps 14 seats, an improvement of either 4 of 5 from the 2005 election

The Social Democrats have won at least 2 more seats that last time.

I'm watching on the news as we speak.

It looks to be a good night for the Left, and for Japanese democracy in general.
Brilliant stuff!

I'll update this a bit later.

There are still 178 seats yet to be announced, I imagine these are the seats accorded to Proportional Representation, as in the Japanese electoral system 180 seats are voted by PR, while 300 are first past the post. I'm not sure when these will come through.


Also: Takeshi Kitano of Takeshi's Castle fame, is helping present the election. Which is pretty nice.

Saturday, 29 August 2009


Blogger sucks and I suck at html, so click on the landscape pictures to get them not all cropped.


Another day campaigning, 4PM to 8PM. It's actually quite nice just having a schedule! I think I was interviewed by a Taiwanese public television channel? I said some fairly inane stuff about being a member of the SWP (that lie again!), it being good that Japan could get a two party system, like Britain and America, but it probably being a case of the two parties having few substantial differences, like Britain and America. I mostly like the idea that there is now a televised recording of me in connection with a far-left party. I hope I get banned from America or something.

Otherwise it was quite interesting leafleting (I say this because "manifestoing" sounds wack) in the areas I did. It made me realise both how well I know the city and how many memories I have attached to it. We leafleted in Shibuya, on and around the street where I spend my last depressed night in Japan, lamenting that I had to come home. We leafleted in Shinjuku, and when were were done, I was walked to my subway line past the corner at which I said my goodbye to my friend and got the train to the airport. It was nice being able to build new memories on top of these.

And I got my pictures developed. BUT YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO SKIP THE TEXT AND ONLY LOOK AT THE PICTURES. Here's some nice mild stuff to ease you in to the revolutionary shit to follow:



This one doesn't do justice to JUST HOW BIG THE OFFICE IS.





That's all for today, but I'll be joining you tomorrow evening with a LIVE ELECTION NIGHT TWITTER-FEST. Ahahaha, that's a lie I hate twitter so much.

Friday, 28 August 2009

House Of Cards

I feel I was a little unfair yesterday when I wrote about my time down the JCP HQ. I simplified things in the name of lulz. My friend Heathcote said something before I left - I can't quite remember the context - but it was something about how I "don't really see the Japanese as people anymore", which unfortunately has some truth to it. A year of studying Japan and things Japanese at Cambridge, moreover, a year outside Japan, has abstracted and intellectualised Japan for me. This has a fairly literal representation in the fact that I got a 1st in Japanese Literature, a 2.1 in Japanese History, and a low 2.2 in Japanese language. I've gone from a bumbling fluency in the spoken language at the end of my trip here last summer, to simple bumbling at the moment. I've gone from a situation where Japan was my reality and Britain seemed like some sort of Matrix-esq virtual reality, to a situation where I simply couldn't conjure to mind what Japan was "like" in the face of the sadness at leaving my friends and family behind. Japan has to be my reality now, so in the name of good faith I can't treat Japanese people as fodder for bloggy amusement.

But to put it simply, it dawned on me just how ridiculously nice the whole thing was! I went in to this aforementioned Palace of Leftism, made my meaning known to the receptionist with vocabulary closely approximating Japanese and grammar somewhat more abstractly so, where he then called for somebody who spoke more English. I was sat down at a desk in a semi-private booth which seemed to be designed for smart-casual chats. And I waited. Enter Mr. Tashiro Tadatoshi (Tadatoshi Tasiro-san), Deputy Director of the International Bureau, Member of the Central Committee of the Japanese Communist Party, according to his card. He gave me his card. I'm not going to lie, half the appeal of Leftist politics is the idea of being a "card-carrying member" of something. But yeah, he sat down, and said that he appreciated the offer, but that as a foriegner I couldn't legally campaign in any official sense of the word.

But he also explained the parties views on foreign rights - they support greater involvement of foreigners in the political system generally, and support the right of non-citizen residents to vote in local elections specifically. We talked politics a bit, I lied and said I was a member of the Socialist Workers Party - I would be! But I've been a bit disorganised and figured it wouldn't make too much sense to become a due-paying member of a party I wouldn't be able to participate in for the next year - and when I was able to answer "Trotskyist" to the question of "what's their orientation" felt as though I had reached a certain level of esoteric knowledge regarding the Left, in the same way I felt when I could answer "Speyside" to the question of "favorite region?" regarding whisky. We chatted a bit about Japanese politics and the like, and then he asked me to wait. He went off, and when he came back, he brought English translations of the latest JCP newspaper editions, and 4 expensive looking English language books from the party press. He let me know where to see some party speeches and said that I could probably help hand out manifestos if I just showed up. This isn't a rhetorical question, are most dealings with political parties this friendly?

Is this post too detailed? Is it too political? I would have thought the blog title and logo would be enough to scare people off, but maybe I need a rating system at the top of each post with starts indicating how much I'll be talking about politics as opposed to robots or Pokemon?

OH! I went to get one of my disposable camera's developed and put on CD, and I bought a charger and memory card reader for my digicam so the picture's should start and keep Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' in from tomorrow.

So I went to watch the party chairman speak in central Tokyo today. The party members where pretty surprised to see a foreigner wanting to get involved, but were quite happy to have a go at handing out manifestos. And they even let me wear a nifty armband! The form of the thing is, sadly far more Japanese than it is revolutionary. There was no blowing anything up, let alone shouting. Just lots and lots of slight bows. And "Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu" ("If you'd be so kind"). Say it. Say it fast. Real fast. And a few hundred times. Not surprisingly, a lot of people hurry past and avoid eye contact. What is surprising is that some people didn't. Some people took the manifesto in approval of my novelty factor. Some people actually came up to me to ask for one. Perhaps the most satisfying thing is when people's eye is caught just before the leave your arm's reach and decide in the last moment to take one. I've always thought that the slog work of low-level politics was rewardless. But weirdly enough, for all the people who look at you discerningly, or who simply ignore you, the minority who take the manifesto, who stick around to watch the speech, who devote just a bit of their time to a cause greater than themselves, even if that is just taking the actions to make an informed vote, do make it worth while.

After that died down and as the members packed away, I began chatting to a few. We talked about student politics, what I was doing in Japan, what was I doing at a JCP speech and thank yous. We went to Shibuya to hand out more manifestos. But before the van arrived - you can't do politics in Japan without a van with loudspeakers behind you - we sat in a cafe and got an ice-cream. The Japanese Communist Party bought me an ice-cream. I was told to be careful, as in Japan the term "Trotskite" is strongly associated with political terrorism, ala the 70s' student movement. I said that in England, it was more of an intellectual thing, ala opposing Stalin. I probably should have said it was more of an angry old men thing TBH. But anyway, I donned one of their matching pink t-shirts and took to the streets.

I left early to meet some friends but they flaked out, so I wandered around until I found a cheap curry house and came back. Also tonight is my last night in this hostel, so I need to find somewhere to sleep. Tomorrow there's another speech going on, the last event before the day of election, so I'll be doing more footwork there.
Checklist for tomorrow:
Find place to sleep for reasonable price.
Start the revolution.
Pick up photos from developing.

Night night, big love

Thursday, 27 August 2009


The blog logo is just a wee bit kitsch, if you needed clarification. Socialists graphics these days have got with the times, man.

One Solution

Hiya everyone, I'm in Japan. It's 9PM and I'm sleepy.

My Japanese is rusty as hell, but coming back for the 4th time in as many years there's no culture shock whatsoever. Accordingly, my first "meal" of my year abroad was can coffee and a rice ball with little bits of octopus in it.

Jumping right into things, my first port of call following my hostel check-in was obviously the Japanese Communist Party's Headquaters. I assume the Communist Party of Britain's HQ's a pub in Crouch End. These guys had a 10 story. huge office block to themselves in central Tokyo. Swankiest Socialists ever. But yeah, Japan has a general election coming up on the 30th August. This looks to be a big'un. The ruling centre-right/right wing Liberal Democrat Party have been continuously in power since 1955 - except for a brief 1 year interval in the early 90s when the Socialists got in, apologised to Korea on behalf of Japan for being dickheads, then were quickly voted out - this election will most likely see the end of the LDPs hegemony and see them replaced by the Democratic Party of Japan, officially and kind of centre-left, but in reality a coalition of mushy ideology-less corruption scandals. But hey, it stirs things up a little. The JCP used to be fairly right on Marxists, and faced all the repression one could expect for such things under the statist-military deal in the 20s-40s. Nowadays their platform is mostly "be nice to poor people!", "nukes are pretty bad, right?" and "Stop doing that America!" - which is all good stuff.

So I was all "Oh hi Japanese Communist Party, me and you could do some electoral campaigning together, if you catch my drift ;D"

But they just used the classic "It's not you, it's the legal code that tightly regulates political activity and forbids foreigners for participating in elections" excuse. Typical. So I got the sympathy line of "but you can go and watch some party speeches tomorrow and help hand out manifestos, which is something of a legal grey-zone, and have some paperback polemics too", and like the dirty Marx junkie I am, I took it.

Reinforcing my socialist ardor is the fact that I'm Broke in Japan! Last year 1 pound got you 200 yen, this year it's 140. A doubling of the price of everything has halved the time it takes me to walk through Harajuku. Maybe if I can afford less I'll spend more time learning Japanese or something. That could work.

So yes, that's pretty much my first day in Japan for you. I've got some pictures, but they're on disposable camera's, so I'll have them up once they're developed. As I said at the beginning, I'm sleepy, so I'm going to sleep. My comrades will want me in top physical condition
Night night, I miss you all~

Monday, 24 August 2009

Kiss me goodbye and write me while I'm gone

Hullo everyone.
I'm Dom and this is my blog.
In the past I've had blogs about Japan/me being in Japan/ideas and thoughts on Japan, and a rather short lived blog about politics.
This blog will be about Japan, but also politics, but also anything else I would like to write to, hoping that the power of writing to an audience of tens doesn't go to my head. Probably pictures too.

I'm going to Japan for a year, where I will be studying at Doshisha University in Kyoto.
Before that I will be in Tokyo for a while then maybe Sendai/Matsuyama/Okayama/Kobe/Osaka? But maybe not. I only have my first two nights' hostel booked. So we'll see how that goes.

I leave tomorrow afternoon on the 13:45 flight out of Terminal 3.
I would say I'm excited, as obviously the prospect of a year abroad by myself is an incredible one. But I'm not sure if I am excited at the moment. It's all far less planned that usual - as in I haven't booked a hostel room for every single night of my travels with a clear and efficient path for seeing the most of the country in the most depth as possible - and I've not been thinking about Japan as much as I had been before my other trips. Which is clever considering I'm now in the middle of my Japanese Studies degree... Basically, I'm having a hard time arriving in Tokyo and living in Kyoto, so I'm far more focused on leaving London.

It's sad. I'm really going to miss people. I've had a great year meeting new people and getting to know some old friends better. And leaving people (and to a far lesser extend, places, and events - I wanna campaign in the 2010 General Election dammit!) behind, regardless of all the nice shiny Japan times ahead is, well a bit sad basically.

Sigh. I have people coming over for a leaving do in an hour or so, so I should go and do my hair and make up, put mini umbrellas in the cocktail glasses, prepare the aperitifs etc.

But yeah, watch this space, read things, and then maybe write things in the comments?
But also my email is dominiclmorris (at)
And apparently my skype is dominiclmorris. So add me, lol.

Big love <3<3<3