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Novelist Murakami urges politicians to speak sincerely about virus

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By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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Murakami, in a two-hour live New Year's Eve radio show, urged political leaders to “talk honestly from the gut” to the people to encourage their participation in slowing an upsurge in infections, which are on the verge of getting out of control.

It's cute that he actually thinks that the recent (allowed for public consumption numbers) are the truth and that the real numbers haven't already gotten out of control.

The only thing on the verge of getting out of control are the lies and misinformation that the Tokyo and Japanese government have been spewing for the last half year or so about how they are dealing with virus, their testing and reporting of it.

20 ( +27 / -7 )

Murakami wasn't being so "nice" , and the nuances are TOTALLY lost in translation.

The translation here leaves something to be desired.

26 ( +28 / -2 )

His opinion is one that is stated by a novelist. It is free anybody says anything. I do not read his novel. I would rather eat a nice food if I have money to buy his fiction book.

-33 ( +5 / -38 )

Tokyo’s Positive Rate: 10.2%

“The number of actual cases in your area is likely higher than that percent positive number, ...”

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/11/17/health/covid-19-percent-positive-explainer/index.html

9 ( +12 / -3 )

“Japan so far has avoided an explosive growth in infections, but its recent upsurge has many people worried.”

No it hasn’t. It is completely out of control. Japan has handled this crisis far worse than any other country in Asia.

18 ( +24 / -6 )

I think an essential problem with the coronavirus is our uncertain future, which is triggering a sense of fear, anger and escapism among people, which I think is the biggest danger," Murakami said in a conversation with one of two guests, Nobel physiology prize winner Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University.

We should listen to our great writers.

Murakami is speaking with a great amount of subtlety and tact, but if you have read his novels the themes of alienation and Kafkaesque surrealistic unfairness are easy to apply to the current situation.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Japan so far has avoided an explosive growth in infections, but its recent upsurge has many people worried.

It really makes we wonder if when Yamaguchi san wrote this, if they actually looked at any charts.

Here's a good one: https://covid19japan.com/#confirmed

I think it qualifies as an "explosive growth." If it doesn't, I'd really like to understand what does.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Maybe he could get some of the posters here to speak sincerely about it?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Everyone in Japan urges politicians to speak sincerely about virus. Everyone has been pleading with the politicians for about a year now. Everyone has been urging politicians to tell he truth.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

I’m quite sure they have done enough speaking about the virus. It’s time they took some action.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

When's the last time you heard a politician talk seriously about anything other than needing campaign funds?

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Tokyo’s Positive Rate: 10.2%

“The number of actual cases in your area is likely higher than that percent positive number, ...”

That of course requires for the test to be randomly done on people without symptoms on the street. For Tokyo that is not the case, so the positive rate applies to the people that would qualify for testing.

In the Japanese terribly low testing strategy the positive rate of 10% would mean that one out of ten heavily symptomatic people/close contacts of a case are actually infected.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, have been criticized for reading carefully scripted statements prepared by bureaucrats at news conferences, often repeating the same phrases in response to questions

J- politics in a nutshell... especially the hopelessly out of touch LDP daimyos.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

It is easy for politicians to warn people about the pandemic and order lock down but they also have to float economy. Did Murakami say any good idea about it?

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

It’s good to know that Murakami is so concerned about the lives and welfare of people in Japan. Nice words from a novelist whose main concern is winning a Nobel prize in literature which he covets so much.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

His opinion is one that is stated by a novelist. It is free anybody says anything. I do not read his novel. I would rather eat a nice food if I have money to buy his fiction book.

We all like "a nice" food, but you've got to feed your head, too, which is what novels are eminently suited for. You'd be surprised at what you could learn about pandemics and how we humans never fail to mishandle our responses because of our being the social animals and creatures of habit that we are. "The Plague" (ペスト), written by Albert Camus, is the very best novel to learn from and, once immersed in the characters and story, it becomes so absorbing and intellectually gripping that you'll forget all about feeding your face.

Don't ever think that "mere" fiction cannot teach us more about reality than reading newspapers or listening to the newspeak of politicians.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

Japan needs an artist with a Dionysian soul like Hunter S. Thompson to speak truth to power.

In the Japanese context I can think of the other Murakami around the time of his debut novels, Ryu Murakami.

I think he has settled down quite a bit though and is doing that business documentary program with Eiko Koike Cambria Kyuuden.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Honest speaking for politicians is possibly against the constitution maybe?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I agree with every Murakami says just because of that cool shirt he's wearing.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I agree with every Murakami says just because of that cool shirt he's wearing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If the PM and chief health officer or Japan’s equivalent (not a pollie) gave regular briefings together I’m sure that would go a long way to get the message out to the populace...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

So very true. What is it about Japanese politics and bureaucracy that so effectively weeds OUT anyone with actual leadership skills, charisma and talent. Completely devoid of the ability to connect with the people that they are supposed to represent. What kills me is watching normal, competent people subjugate themselves and grovel to those with ‘power’, but very little actual skill n anything other than self-promotion. I just don’t get it, and probably never will. One of those things.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Japanese politicians, especially those in the LDP, are incapable of speaking honestly. Koike came from the LDP so same attitude. All they can do is lecture people. , they are incapable of thinking outside the box and offering fresh ideas. As such, Japan will be stuck in Carona mode for a long time. Olympics? You can forget about them.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

@vanityofvanitiesToday  07:43 am JST

His opinion is one that is stated by a novelist. It is free anybody says anything. I do not read his novel. I would rather eat a nice food if I have money to buy his fiction book.

Yup you can get all the info you need from NHK or CNN right.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

He is right.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japanese people do not want a dictator-like leader. "Wa" is a key word to understand Japan.

-14 ( +4 / -18 )

There is a tendency in the Japanese political imagination for all failures to be failures only of communication; that politicians need only to work harder to attain the public's understanding -- even when they lie, cheat, do favors for friends under the table, or utterly neglect their responsibilities.

What about failures of ACTION?

Japanese politicians don't only ned to "speak sincerely," they need to SHOW more concern for the people living here and DO more things to protect us.

In other countries, artists are at the front lines of mass political demonstrations; and even if that's off the table because of COVID, they create provocative works, and support more full-throated protest. If this sort of wishy-washy diagnosis by Murakami passes for activism and political engagement, that's a sorry statement about both politics and the arts in Japan.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

“It would be difficult for the people to squarely cooperate with the (anti-virus) measures when politicians are not communicating with messages" in words that can reach people's hearts, Murakami said, without identifying any politician by name.

If any Hollywood celebrity said anything so vapid and meaningless, they'd be the butt of jokes for a week

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Get use to government lies. They all have a secret agenda to accomplish with this pandemic. Not the first time jgovt cover ups look at another example that govtvlied through their teeth about the Fukushima meltdowns

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Maybe he should be the prime minister.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Interestingly, the protagonist in many of Murakami's novels are often apolitical and existentialist.

He has written stories inspired by events that have shaken society, including the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing attack by an apocalyptic cult.

His non-fiction, Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche, is worth reading.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

dagonToday  08:31 am JST

I think an essential problem with the coronavirus is our uncertain future, which is triggering a sense of fear, anger and escapism among people, which I think is the biggest danger," Murakami said in a conversation with one of two guests, Nobel physiology prize winner Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University.

We should listen to our great writers.

Murakami is speaking with a great amount of subtlety and tact, but if you have read his novels the themes of alienation and Kafkaesque surrealistic unfairness are easy to apply to the current situation.

That's what good writers do. They have insight and they write it as fiction yet it really isn't 'fictional'. just like 'science fiction' is a prediction based on what we know now in science.

This guy seems to be very well rounded. Governments need to listen to guys like him.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Japanese people do not want a dictator-like leader. "Wa" is a key word to understand Japan.

Wa in politics " translates as - avoiding individual responsibility.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

We have many that do not believe the official numbers and that is understandable, the number of overall cases are clearly far above due to low testing but then even in countries where they are testing a lot experts say their numbers are low.

Where we can know something is the number of hospitalizations and this in ICU which is very high by Japanese standards but low my international, Deaths again some believe the numbers some don't.

If one looks at how the Japanese live and how some of the hardest hit countries live we see major differences.

Care homes were the hardest hit in places like north America with residents having high coronary diseases, high obesity with all the problems that brings. Elderly Japanese tend to live alone or with family, have low obesity, low coronary disease.

Then there is lifestyle, few Japanese homes entertain in house and if they do it is generally just family, it was extremely rare that my children would go play in a friend's house or vise versa, they remained outside and even rarer spend the night.

Many western countries it is common to have home parties, it is common to have friends and neighbours over for dinner, drinks, BBQ, etc...

All these factors plus simple things like early use of masks, certain cultural hygiene habits like toilets located in closets not next to the sink where you brush your teeth, removing shoes before dragging the outside dirt into your home and on to your furniture and bed, etc...

Created an environment that makes spreading the virus less.

The error was the government thinking that for some reason Japan was special, encouraging people to travel, etc... This and other missteps nearly negated the cultural aspects that reduced the spread.

It is not rocket science why Japan has not seen death tolls like the west, the Japanese are not the social gathering type especially non family in their homes. When I lived in North America and Europe I would regularly have people over, I could count on one hand the times I had non family members over here in Japan in the last 30 years.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I hesitate to trust the article's interpretation of what Murakami said, but as lyrical01 aptly describes, the problem is not about the sincerity or clarity of the messaging. "Please stay at home" is a clear and (for me) sufficiently sincere message. The photo of the Tokyo shrine at New Year yesterday was full of young faces. Those people don't even have the excuse of 50 or 60 years' of going to the shrine to justify ignoring the message. I bet a lot of them aren't even from that neighbourhood. If people simply avoid crowds (the "mitsu" people have been told about hundreds of times), then we do not need nasty lockdowns.

I know Suga going for steak dinners does not help, but two wrongs never make a right. People told to stay at home should stay at home.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Just to give contexts on the difference between Japan and the west.

Recently we are told in articles here that Japan's UCU beds are filling up fast and in some places they have only 20% capacity left put others 40% left,

Japan has 5 ICU beds per 100,000 people. Now compare that to Canada with has 13.5 beds per 100,000 and has in many patients out number beds, and on average are at 90% capacity.

The USA has 35 ICU beds per 100,000 and again nearly every state is maxed out.

The UK and EU are similar more ICU beds per 100,000 lowest countries being Spain and Italy with twice the beds per 100,000 than Japan and both at max capacity.

This is just speculation but if cases were as bad as in the west and Japan having so few ICU beds then logically they would be at full capacity and far over, one thing they cannot hide or avoid is those needing ICU care (advanced treatment) and for now Japan is not seeing the numbers like the west.

Is Japan heading that way? Possibly, if the government continues to promote silly behavior like go to travel.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

They'll hate him more for this than they do him not selling out to the media circus here... and then they'll pat themselves on the back for any international recognition he gets, and demand he win the Nobel Prize (for them).

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

It's interesting that Murakami's insight is making the headline exclusively on RikiWeb, with a bit of introductions to his famous works. I wonder how many readers value a comment of a fiction writer when we are on the verge of explosive infection serge.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Looks like he's signing something.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

superIMO2020: "I wonder how many readers value a comment of a fiction writer when we are on the verge of explosive infection serge."

I'd say a lot more than people who don't but then take the time to read an article and write about the person who's opinion they don't value.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

t's interesting that Murakami's insight is making the headline exclusively on RikiWeb, with a bit of introductions to his famous works. I wonder how many readers value a comment of a fiction writer when we are on the verge of explosive infection serge.

You say "fiction writer" like he just makes up stuff with no meaning.

Wrong. This is a man who worked his way to the top of his craft, internationally might I add, by honing in on the essence of being human in modern civilization. His words pack a lot of clout and he's throwing it in political directions in order to influence politicians to be pro-active in fighting this virus.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Nice way to tell everyone that he is going to release his new novel so that everyone should read during the pandemic and feel good about it.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Here is someone local with an opinion on politics, ...which is out of his profession.

You must be nearly Nobel to earn attention and no denial here is the beat generation at work.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

If only the pandemic was like fiction and could be written out of the script.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I wish everyone would start speaking sincerely about the virus.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

longtimenoseeJan. 2  04:23 pm JST

t's interesting that Murakami's insight is making the headline exclusively on RikiWeb, with a bit of introductions to his famous works. I wonder how many readers value a comment of a fiction writer when we are on the verge of explosive infection serge.

You say "fiction writer" like he just makes up stuff with no meaning.

*Wrong. **This is a man who worked his way to the top of his craft, internationally might I add, by honing in on the essence of being human in modern civilization. His words pack a lot of clout and he's throwing it in political directions in order to influence politicians to be pro-active in fighting this virus.*

A good fiction writer doesn't just make stuff out of thin air. People like Murakami don't make 'pipe dreams'. The 'fiction', whether it's sci-fy, romance or otherwise is based in reality and anticipates what can happen from it all. The actual reality often occurs, but in a way different that how it's predicted. Still, there is meaning to what novelists like Murakami writes. The same goes for Shakespear for that matter.

You just change the names, places, etc. and what the novelist writes about becomes reality.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Murakami is sanctimonious.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes. Good idea. Let's do speak very frankly about the virus without any media bias. A frank discussion would be entirely refreshing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Nobody’s stopping you Randy. Share your thoughts.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why is it that those who say we need an honest sincere dialogue about the virus follow it up by.....saying nothing?

Wrong audience I guess.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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