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Vox Populi: Nations, regions ruled by violence, fake democracy, are on the rise

  • August 4, 2021
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 2:49 p.m.
  • English Press

In the short story “Chinnyusha” (Intruders) by Kobo Abe (1924-1993), a family of nine strangers show up one night at the protagonist’s bachelor apartment.


Insisting that it’s their home, they refuse to leave.


What is chilling is that they profess to practice “democracy.” They decide by majority vote that the apartment is now theirs. When the protagonist protests, they retort in anger, “Are you trivializing the principle of majority vote that is fundamental to democracy?”


In the end, they hold him down and beat him unconscious.


I sense a slow yet sure increase in the number of nations and regions ruled by irrational violence and fake democracy.


Russia holds elections, but critics of the regime are denied candidacy and can also be arrested.


Hong Kong has expelled pro-democracy lawmakers from its assembly.


In Myanmar, it has been six months since the military seized the reins of government in a coup. It was announced on Aug. 1 that Min Aung Hlaing, the commander in chief of Defense Services, had assumed the post of prime minister.


He reportedly intends to call a general election by 2023, apparently with an eye to demonstrating to the international community that his will be a civilian regime, not a military one. But with senior members of the nation’s leading party–the National League for Democracy (NLD)–still in confinement, what is the point of calling this election at all?


The junta does not even allow popular protest demonstrations. According to a human rights group, 940 citizens have been killed by the national army during the last six months.


Any organization that openly warns members of the public that they “ought to understand the risk of being shot in the head or the back” has no right whatsoever to call itself the national army.


The citizens of Myanmar are appealing to the international community for help. I distinctly remember the Japanese Foreign Ministry promising to negotiate unofficially with Myanmar’s national army, with which it claims to have a channel of communication.


But I haven’t seen any results at all so far.


–The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 4


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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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