I enjoy reading the Observing Japan blog by Tobias Harris (a self-described fledgling Japan/East Asia specialist — some have called him a “Japan hand,” although for now he is probably more of a “Japan finger” — who worked for a DPJ member of the upper house of the Diet 2006-2007) and now I get to share his 2008 review of Japanese politics.

President-elect Obama’s message of CHANGE to world took on a slightly different meaning in Japan. Harris refers to the Change most familiar and safe to those in Japan while previously Black Tokyo had to attack another while gaining international press coverage for its efforts.

As the kanji of the year suggested, 2008 was a year for change. Change, of course, was the message of U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama’s campaign, but in Japan, change seemed to mostly refer to the teledrama CHANGE, starring male idol Kimura Takuya as Asakura Keita — a schoolteacher pressed into political service after his politician father’s death (this is Japan, after all). The naïve and idealistic teacher is propelled to the premiership by the political fixers of the ruling party, who think his popularity can save their flailing organization. Naturally he rises above the murk of the political world and delivers change Japan can believe in.

The story could not be less connected to the reality of Japanese politics in 2008.Click here to read the rest of the story!