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Dictator Japanese mayor bans alcohol

May 21, 2012

Soichiro Takashima, mayor of Fukuoka, is acting more like a dictator than a sensible politician.

Soichiro Takashima, mayor of Fukuoka City, has ordered all city employees to stop drinking alcohol “outside their homes” for a month, which will end on June 20. This is in response to a fireman who allegedly stole a car while under the influence of alcohol.

“The sobriety order calls for all regular city employees to refrain from drinking at restaurants and other establishments as well as at friends’ houses,” stated the Mainichi. One could understand that workers be prohibited from drinking while on duty, but does this order affect people when they are not at work? Media reports differ, but this is what the Japan Times had to say:

“The notice orders officials to only drink nonalcoholic beverages at meetings with kin and at work-related parties, and only allows alcohol consumption at their own wedding parties.”

Work parties, if sponsored by their employers, might be legal since they could be held liable for the actions of people leaving a party drunk. However, to intrude into people’s private lives while they are not at work or doing work duties and to tell them they can drink would be a clear violation of workers rights. The mayor would have no authority or right to tell someone what to drink anymore than he has the right to tell someone what to eat, be they city employees or not. What kind of political system is it that allows some mayor to tell people what they eat or drink at a restaurant? It is certainly not a democratic one that respects human rights. If it begins with alcohol, it will only extend further as they presume the right to demand workers do other things the mayor thinks up in a political move that will likely have no impact on crime reduction.

It is true there is a problem with alcoholism, but one guy allegedly involved with the theft of a car several months ago is hardly justification for meddling in other people’s lives. Even if an additional man accused of “beating” a taxi driver is found guilty, banning alcohol for all employees would be nothing short of draconian. The mayor’s actions sound more like a poor excuse to reign on civil liberties under the guise of protecting people for a crime that has nothing to do with vast majority of city employees, unless one takes the position that they are all likely to get drunk and steal cars. That would indicate a vote of no confidence of the mayor in the majority of city employees.

The new mayor of Fukuoka, a 36-year-old former television announcer, appears to need a lesson in basic human rights. Perhaps his age and inexperience have induced him to accept the council of ayatollah-like dictators who believe they have something to gain from preventing innocent people from doing something Japanese law clearly says is allowable. This is politics, not safety. This is dictatorship, not democracy.

This is just one example of the sort of authoritarian control Japanese bosses have over their employees. Human rights, choices, freedoms? Japan can now go speak to the Taliban in Afghanistan and inform them that they have something in common. Maybe they can all ban alcohol together. One wonders where Asahi, Kirin and the myriad of other alcohol companies are on this one.  It looks like they are cowards unable to stand up to him or that this move will not affect their sales enough for them to rise a peep.

An Afghan burns alcohol in Kabul. Mayor Takashima might find he has some interesting allies in Afghanistan who share his love of banning people’s rights. Source: Radio Free Europe.

Takishima, if he was truly concerned about problems, might send in his morality police to look at the brothels in Fukuoka, the largest concentration of prostitution in the nation. He might then have some credibility with the Taliban he appears to emulate so much.

If the workers in Fukuoka had any courage, self-worth or were free human beings they would not only protest this “rule,” but they would stand outside mayor Takashima’s office every day after work and drink in defiance of this political decision. Would this promote drunkenness? It is already a major of Japanese culture and has been for a very long time. Then they would scrutinise the mayor’s life and take a close look at his eating and drinking habits to see if he practises what he preaches. After all, with the sort of rules mayors have been making recently, maybe it would make sense to enact a ban his privileges for a month, and extend it to all mayors across Japan. Ah, hypocrisy’s ugly head steps in. Well, Saddam, Gaddafi, Tojo, Hirohito and other dictators never were subjected to the same rules as regular people.

All hail emperor Takashima. Takashima would make Tojo proud.

Op-ed submitted to Civis Journal, which does not necessarily reflect the views of its editors or staff.

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  1. May 23, 2012 at 01:19

    Make everyday a wedding day, then!

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