The May edition of The Atlantic magazine features Jay Aeba, spokesperson of the HRP (Happiness Realization Party), participating as an observer in last February’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) held in Washington D.C. The HRP was founded in May 2009 with support of Happy Science. The new political party aims to contribute to world peace and prosperity with its religious faith and conservatism. The party line pledges to beef up Japan’s self-defense capability and to promote the liberal economic system. Aeba is now actively constructing connections within the Republican Party or GOP (“Grand Old Party”).
The article in The Atlantic introduces Aeba as “one of the leaders of Japan’s right-wing Happiness Realization Party” and a “charismatic” person. His communication with the leadership of the GOP led to his appointment as official advisor to the RNC (Republican National Committee) on Asia-U.S. relations. The article describes the purpose of his visit to the CPAC as to absorb principles of American conservatism: “small government, low taxes, and free enterprise.”
Why does Japan need conservatism? According to Aeba, cited in The Atlantic, “Japan has been suffering from a bad economy for many years. What is worse, at the moment, the current administration is aiming to raise the [sales] tax again, from 5 percent to 8 percent, and then 10 percent. If we allow them to do that, the Japanese economy will end.”
Providing an overview of the new Japanese political party, The Atlantic states that the HRP is the political division of Happy Science, a new Japanese spiritual movement, whose leader identifies himself as “a reincarnation of the Buddha.” According to the column, the party has a “muscular” posture in its foreign policy agenda with a proposal to revise the war-renunciation clause of the Japanese Constitution while it aims to promote religious values domestically. “The best analogy would be the Christian Coalition, Buddhist-style,” explains the American political consultant accompanying Aeba at the CPAC.
Aeba also comments on the GOP candidates for the US presidential nomination in The Atlantic. According to Aeba, as cited in the article, Rick Santorum lacks toughness despite his popularity while Newt Gingrich has the advantage of his “strong” personality. And finally, Aeba describes trust-building as the main weakness of Mitt Romney: “The more he tries to explain, the more doubt I have in my mind.”
Finally, The Atlantic outlines the recent impasse in Japanese politics. The liberal coalition took power after the 2009 election by defeating the half-century rule of the conservative LDP. However, the new government has been caught by the familiar cycle of revolving-door political leadership by having already welcomed its third prime minister. According to the column, “Now the country’s continuing economic difficulties seem to be stirring up a sort of populist sentiment rarely seen in Japan.”
Overall, the article introduces the HRP in a way which goes beyond the stereotypical image of Japanese politics, in positive tone with a flavor of humor and surprise. This provides the probability that the HRP and its policies will become more widely known in the U.S.