Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not above gimmicks if these can sell his defense policy to leery voters.
He is using anime cartoons, show-and-tell TV appearances, complete with a mock-up of burning buildings, to persuade them about his bolder defense policy.
But it isn’t working.
Reuters reports that Abe’s popularity rating, once as high as 60 percent, has slumped since he made changes to Japan’s post-war security stance.
This includes legislation enabling its armed forces to defend a friendly nation under attack.
Abe had a far easier time when he won power in December 2012, vowing to reboot the economy.
Now he faces protests and a majority of voters who do not understand his security policy or feel it is dangerous and violates Japan’s pacifist constitution.
This month, the LDP released an anime entitled “Tell me, moustachioed commander!”, in which a character modelled after LDP lawmaker and former army commander Masahisa Sato chats to a high-school girl, Akari, while commuting on a train, assuring her the changes are needed but won’t increase the risk of war.
“Do you know there are countries pointing missiles at Japan?” the Sato character asks. “What will we do if they are fired?”
Akari replies: “Eh? They’ll fire them? No, No! Someone protect us!”
Abe has also taken to the internet. In one episode on a LDP Web channel, he likens collective self-defence to an incident in which “buddy Aso” (Finance Minister Taro Aso) volunteers to protect Abe from bullies – and gets punched himself.
Opposition lawmakers accused Abe of talking down to voters.
On Monday, Abe appeared on national TV with a model of an American house spewing fake smoke and fire. The mock flames spread to a smaller US building and threaten to engulf a Japanese house.
At that point, Abe said, demonstrating with cut-outs, Japanese “firefighters” help to douse the fire.
The show-and-tell reaped online ridicule.
But Abe is pressing on.
“We are not doing politics to win support but rather, while obtaining support, we want to do what needs to be done,” he said on Monday’s TV show.
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