Lion Man - king of the jumble
Readers of our newspaper will know that Australia and New
Zealand are now part of South East Asia and with the Japanese economy
collapsing daily, the new Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited Australia
and New Zealand and in the newspaper article we are reading here he is
struggling to survive.
The headline of the article in the New Zealand Herald 25
April 2002 says -– "Lion Man now dog tucker -
...Lion Man (as his name roughly translates) was everywhere.
His furry tail waved from posters and stickers. His cute mane was moulded into
plastic dolls and mobile telephone straps.
At the small gift shop in the headquarters of the Liberal
Democratic Party in central Tokyo, schoolgirls and housewives queued to buy
posters of Lion Man and the real-life hero on whom he was based -– Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
What a difference 10 months makes. At the height of the boom,
the gift shop had hundreds of customers daily -– now it is lucky to see a few
dozen. Copies of the Lion Man 2002 Calendar lie unsold on a table outside and,
although the Koizumi T-shirts have sold out, there are no plans to restock.
As a cartoon superhero Lion Man is finished. As a
politician, Koizumi looks more and more like yesterday's man...
He was a fearless reformer who made no bones about the pain
needed for economic recovery, and his early approval ratings -– close to 90 per
cent for weeks on end -– made him perhaps the most popular politician in the
Under Koizumi, unemployment has touched a post-war peak of
5.6 per cent -– next year it is predicted to climb even higher...
Japan is the world's second-largest economy, and its
consumers' decisions are felt around the world.
At present, fearing unemployment and more bad news ahead,
they are spending little, and the pinch is being felt everywhere, but especially
in the manufacturing centres of Asia.
Even more worrying is the threat -– not imminent, but
alarmingly easy to imagine -– of a major banking collapse that could spread
panic around the world. It is this headache Koizumi was supposed to cure, but he
has failed to even ease it...
Every Japanese Prime Minister for 10 years has mouthed the
slogans of reform, but none has achieved as much as Koizumi...
If Koizumi can survive the next few months, he may find
himself receiving the credit for a mild economic recovery.
That would give new impetus to his reform programme and offer
him another chance to bring about genuinely radical change. If not, his shelf
life may not outlast the Lion Man 2002 calendars and the unsold Lion Man
stickers in the empty souvenir shop..."
We read now from the Business Herald in New Zealand on
2 May 2002 -– "Systems go for free trade pact -–
Koizumi repeated his proposal for an east Asia grouping to
include Australia and New Zealand -– describing Australia as a core member of
the planned group -– and committed his Government to talks on a bilateral deal
What is the idea of all this? Obviously, if Japan goes down
Australia and New Zealand go down with it as we are no longer individual
countries but part of APEC, Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation.
The world is now a globe you understand, and this being the
case, we must prepare for a system that helps every other country out.
As Koizumi has failed with his reforms that were first
brought into New Zealand and are being introduced to Australia at this time of
writing, he needs all the help he can get to con the people that the word,
reform, really means to make better.
Those of us who live in New Zealand, the guinea pig country,
know that the reforms introduced in this country in 1987 did not make it any
better but made everything very much worse. -– If you don't believe it ask
Koizumi who is trying to introduce these reforms now.