Gurren Lagann- The Consequences of “Fighting the Power”

At its core, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a show about maturing as an individual and rebelling against oppression. Despite the equal importance and narrative intertwinement of these themes, today I will be focusing on the latter. More specifically, I will be looking at how, without the second half of the series, Gurren Lagann would not be remembered today.

Rebelling against oppressor is one of the oldest, and therefore, most used storytelling devices. After all, rebellion is a frequent and important element of real-world history. We saw revolution in the earliest human societies, and we still see it regularly throughout the world today. Further, it is so simple to garner support for a character when they are fighting against a tyrannical regime that is trying to put them down.

The first half of Gurren Lagann takes that narrative device and boils it down to its absolute pure essence. We are provided with one of the most clean-cut, smooth, and satisfying rebellion stories in fiction. There you have it, Simon and the rest of the Dai-Gurren Brigade defeated Lordgenome and the Beastmen forces, regaining control of the surface world. They had some tragic losses, but also made some new friends along the way. A young boy who started out as a non-confident, bullied antisocial in his underground village transformed into the man who led the rebellion to its victory. As most writers would put it, THE END.

What makes Gurren Lagann stand out from its contemporaries is that this “ending” is only the halfway point of the series. After a seven year timeskip, “act 2” begins with what I like to call the “political consequences arc.”

Historical rebellions aren’t as clean cut as most fictional works would have you believe. Revolution often comes with the desire for a new form of government, something that is immensely difficult to implement in a nation so accustomed to tyranny. Systems must be destroyed and rebuilt, citizens must be accounted for and entered into government programs, and all prior opposition must be dead or imprisoned to prevent regime reversal.

The second half of Gurren Lagann addresses all of these elements, and more. Simon and Rossiu, who occupy the two most prominent government leadership positions, are having an excruciatingly difficult time running their nation. Initiatives to move citizens from their underground villages back to the surface world are failing; they didn’t account for people wanting to remain in that oppressed lifestyle. They find out Viral, a high-ranking and unaccounted for member of the original oppressive regime, is working as a terrorist, undermining citizen relocation efforts.

When citizen dissatisfaction and political unrest begin to spread through the new capital, we see Rossiu, a rebellion hero and close friend to Simon, turn on him in a political move he believes is in the best interest of the nation.

All of this climaxes with the invasion of the anti-spiral forces. You see, it is revealed that the initial oppressive regime was present in the first place in order to prevent this external “nation” from invading. Simon must escape from political prison, gather his old rebellion friends (and even some former enemies), and fight against the invading anti-spiral.

Despite being presented through high-concept science fiction and dimensional shenanigans, the second half of Gurren Lagann is showing real-world consequences. Political turmoil, betrayal, and even foreign invasion in times of weakness are common elements of real post-revolution nations. Most fight against the tyrannical regime stories don’t dare tread these complicated waters, they are satisfying enough as it is.

The fact that Gurren Lagann takes a step beyond mere satisfaction, and addresses these logical consequences, is why it is still remembered as a masterpiece today.

WUFT- Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Prepares For Potential Terrorist Threats

Note: This article was initially published on the WUFT site on 2/10/17. 

Link: https://www.wuft.org/news/2017/02/10/alachua-county-sheriffs-office-prepares-for-potential-terrorist-threats/

President Trump spoke Tuesday at the National Sheriff’s Association’s winter meeting. Opening and closing his speech with warnings regarding potential terrorism, Trump said he plans to give sheriffs the weapons they need to do their jobs effectively.

Trump’s speech was bookended by statements on the importance of local law enforcement in the fight against terror.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) already understands this importance. The ACSO has increased its efforts to combat terrorism in its jurisdiction.

Lt. Brandon Kutner, Alachua County Sheriff’s spokesman, said the ACSO has always been conscious of potential terrorist threats, but the recent attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. and Orlando, Fla., have spurred more intense preparation efforts. Kutner said these measures include participation in more frequent and varied training programs, and the acquisition of more advanced equipment.

“Whether it be an improvised explosive device, or if someone’s just really hell bent on causing harm to as many people as possible, we have plans in place to deal with that,” he said.

Kutner said the ACSO is part of a Regional Domestic Security Task Force, which allows them to collaborate with other sheriff’s offices in Northeast Florida, including those in Jacksonville and Marion County.

“We share a support network of equipment, personnel and training in order to combat what we describe as domestic terrorism,” he said.

The Florida Department of Law enforcement website said these task forces are the foundation of domestic security in Florida. The task forces also serve as a force multiplier in the case of an attack.

The Jacksonville and Marion County Sheriff’s Offices participate in annual training exercises with the ACSO, which Kutner said is made possible by participation in the task force.

Despite a recent boost in their efforts, such as participation in training courses across both the state and country, the ACSO only received $1,766 from the task force in 2016. Although the ACSO was unable to confirm how much they were awarded in 2015, Kutner said it was much higher.

Kutner said the reason the ACSO received a lesser amount than what they’re used to is because of the task force’s funding division system. Money is allotted proportionally based on which county needs funding the most. Therefore, Kutner said the amount of new equipment, such as a rook and armored personnel carrier, and staff they already have caused the task force to allot the ACSO less.

The spokesman said another major source of financial support comes from the United States Department of Homeland Security. This funding is not allotted annually, but for a two to three year period. According to the Department of Homeland Security website, these grants may be used for equipment purchases, training programs and other terrorism combatant and preparation efforts.

Kutner said because of the length of this range, recent terrorist activity has not yet been reflected in the amount of funding received. He said the ACSO is unable to disclose the amount the federal government funding provided for the current period.

This funding is directed toward equipment acquisition and upkeep, as well as monthly training programs for all related teams, Kutner said.

Despite having less money to work with, Kutner said the ACSO is using the equipment and training its various terrorism combatant teams to continue to be prepared.

In a press release from ACSO, Sheriff Sadie Darnell cited an award-winning SWAT Team, an FBI-certified bomb team and a marine operations team as a few of the divisions actively training for potential terror threats.

This is similar to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, who faced the Pulse Nightclub attack. It actively trains its SWAT team and a hazardous device team for potential terrorist threats.

Kutner said because the training offered in Alachua County sometimes isn’t enough, the ACSO sends teams across the state and nation to participate in specialized training courses.

Alexis Burton, a Gainesville resident, said she feels safe in Alachua County, and she trusts the police to protect her from terror.

Gainesville resident Jacob Zieper doesn’t see terrorism as a threat to Alachua County.

“Anti-semitic attacks I can absolutely see,” he said. “But in terms of organized terror, I can’t imagine they’d bother with Alachua.”

He said a lack of potential targets in Alachua County justified his opinion.

In the case of an unexpected attack, however, Zieper said he completely trusts the ACSO to protect him.

Kutner disagrees with sentiments of terrorism not being a threat to Alachua County. He cited the University of Florida’s football stadium and nuclear engineering school as prime targets for an attack.

“You have 90,000 people that are packed into a stadium for a Saturday home game,” Kutner said. “That’s a potential issue for us with regard to homeland security.”

In order to prevent an attack of this nature, the ACSO has been working with the University of Florida Police Department, as well as the Gainesville Police Department, by carrying out a screening process at all games.

He said obvious targets aren’t the only Alachua County locations that are threatened — it could happen anywhere.

“No one would say that a nightclub in Orlando would be a specific target for a terrorist attack, but we saw what happened down there,” Kutner said. “No one would say an office building in San Bernardino, California, would be the target of a terrorist attack, but again, it happened, and the local authorities had to be prepared for that.”

Kutner said the police aren’t the only personnel who need to be active in the fight against potential terror. He said he urges all citizens to be alert and aware of their surroundings.

In August 2016, the ACSO joined the Nixle alert program. This mobile service not only allows Alachua County residents to receive alerts on nearby criminal activity, but citizens can text ACSO with anything suspicious they would like to report using the phone number 888-777. They may attach photos and/or videos to these messages.

The sheriff’s office participates in the statewide “If you See Something, Say Something” campaign. In a press release, Sheriff Darnell said to call 1-855-352-7233 if residents notice any suspicious activity.

“The citizens know best,” Kutner said. “If you’re at home and you realize that car that’s been parked across the street is not normally there, as a deputy patrols through that neighborhood, that deputy is not going to know if that’s a normal thing.”

How Trump Won- A Technical Perspective

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-10-55-34-pm
Source: The Associated Press

The 2016 presidential election has come and gone. After one of, if not the, longest elections cycles in American history, it seemed that many were ready for its passing. All of the controversy and lackluster media coverage didn’t ease this impatience. Regardless, it has come to a close. However, what many didn’t expect was the outcome. The shocking nature of these results was made evident in the New York Times’ 2016 Election Forecast, in which they said Hillary Clinton had an 85% chance of winning.

Regardless, it is clear that Donald Trump managed to secure the President-elect title. The race, with regards to popular vote, was very close. However, this was not what allowed Trump his victory. Without the Electoral College system, Clinton would have succeeded at becoming the first female president.

The Electoral College consists of 538 people known as electors. Each elector is assigned a certain amount of points (some more than others, and vice-versa). Electors will typically vote based on the popular vote within their particular state. For example, because Trump gained the popular vote specifically within the state of Florida, the Floridian m
embers of the Electoral College voted Trump. Whichever candidate gains 270 electoral votes secures the position of President-elect.

While extremely rare, this system has the potential to allow for a candidate, without receiving the overall popular vote of the nation, to possibly still become president. This race was one of those rare instances. Over the years, this dilemma has led many to question whether the Electoral College should remain as an institution. Some argue that the national popular vote should determine who becomes president. This argument has become increasingly more prevalent in the days since Trump’s electoral victory.

Trump was clearly able te this system to his advantage during the election. He gained the electoral vote in many essential states. These include Florida (29 electoral votes), Texas (38 electoral votes), and Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes). Clinton did gain some strong states herself (exemplified by California, with 55 electoral votes). However, Trump was able to continue on to secure his 270 with the support he gained from these key states.

The Electoral College system is only one component in the overall conglomerate of factors that led to Trump’s victory. CNN’s Exit Poll data reveals some unexpected information that can provide some reasoning behind Trump’s victory.

One of Clinton’s largest efforts was to secure the female vote. While she did get the majority, 54%, this was a very close majority. Trump still secured 42% of women. Another big push for Clinton was the minority vote, which she lost 21% of to Trump. While many expected the moderate vote to go mainly to Clinton, she only received 52%.

Evidently, many were shocked by the outcome of this election. However, there were factors in place, as made evident by both the Electoral College system, as well as additional exit poll data, that help explain Trump’s upset victory.

The Tab: Why Marco Rubio is Losing in Florida- A UF Perspective

Note: This article was initially published on the news site The Tab on 3/15/16.

Link: http://thetab.com/us/florida/2016/03/15/marco-rubio-losing-florida-uf-perspective-2254

Floridian presidential candidate Marco Rubio has said that winning the Florida primary is a priority. Although he comes from the Sunshine State, the sun doesn’t seem to be shining on him.

Today, the day of the Florida primary, he is 25 percent behind his GOP rival Donald Trump in the polls.

According to Charles Shields, a Political Science instructor at the University of Florida, a fundamental component of political support is name recognition. He said while Rubio may be recognizable in Florida, Trump is still the most candidate recognized in the state.

“There isn’t a single American who doesn’t know who Trump is,” Shields said.

Political Science student Eric Schoen said Trump has a massive presence in Florida. From hotels to businesses, Trump has brought a plethora of economic benefits to the state.

However, both Shields and Schoen agree that name recognition alone isn’t the only reason Trump is more popular than Rubio in Florida.

trru

In Schoen’s opinion, Rubio is the least morally disreputable Republican candidate. However, he clarified that Rubio hasn’t been involved in big government for long.

“One of his negatives and positives is that he hasn’t done anything yet,” Schoen said. “Rubio is very inexperienced, so he shouldn’t be the most powerful person in the world.”

Shields attributes Trump’s success over Rubio as an issue of failure in both major political parties.

“The Democrats didn’t put enough effort into defeating Trump until it was too late,” he said.

He also attributed some of the blame to the Republican party. He said Trump has behaved very inappropriately, especially by Republican standards.

“It’s unfathomable that a party based around structure and effectiveness is failing at this time,” Shields said.

However, he said this is all just speculation, as it will be very hard to truly understand this presidential race until it is over. Shields also admitted his non-affiliation with the Republican party has probably led to his lack of ability to comprehend Trump’s success.

“I feel like I would have a better understanding of the thought process that goes into supporting Trump if I were a Republican,” he said.

Juliette Morgan, a Journalism major, has her own ideas regarding Trump’s success: “Donald Trump makes an ass of himself on TV, so people like how honest he is.”

She also said there is a large amount of elderly conservatives in Florida, as well as uneducated voters who will support Trump simply based on name and television presence alone.

Regardless of Morgan, Schoen, and Shields all saying they prefer Rubio to Trump, they agree Trump is going to win the Republican primary.

ap_marco_rubio_speaks_jc_150413_16x9_992

“Losing the primary will clearly be the end of Rubio’s campaign,” said Shields.

Schoen, despite his lack of support for the candidate, said he believes Trump will not only win the Florida primary, but will most likely become the next president of the United States.

He said: “Rubio is a very small fish trying to swim with the big sharks.”

The Tab: We Asked Drunk UF Students How to Stop ISIS

Note: This article was initially published on the news site The Tab on 2/26/16.

Link: https://thetab.com/us/florida/2016/02/26/how-to-stop-isis-318

ISIS is one of the most dominant organizations in the current media sphere. Some disregard the terrorist organization, using its geographical distance from the United States as a safety blanket.

Others, however, believe that an understanding of the affairs of the group is important, supporting its heavy media presence. However, what is common ground is the organization needs to be stopped.

The question is clearly not if, but how.

The amount of young people passionate about the subject was surprising to me. I was especially surprised to receive such a lively response after midnight on a Saturday.

“I’ll use the biggest beam ever on them. Then I’ll give them some drugs and alcohol, stuff they don’t like,” said a heavily breathing partygoer.

“We get informants and espionage people to join ISIS and drug the leaders. We bomb the hell out of them if they come close to the U.S. though,” explained one shaking teen.

“We build a giant wall around them, call it the great wall of ISIS,” said a college student who stated he was sober. When asked what would happen if the wall was destroyed, he shouted “then we build two walls.”

One man in his mid 20s, lounging on a couch with a red solo cup in his right hand, and a female looking to be the same age wrapped in his left arm, was extremely passionate about the issue. He was adamant that I quoted him directly, but failed to provide my with a clear answer to the question of what his name was.

“Bomb the cities, bomb the whole fucking country. Fuck them, ISIS can take their tongues and stick them up my ass. ISIS is just a couple of guys in turbans with their cocks up each other’s asses. ISIS is not my fucking problem,” the man slurred.

As the party began to die down, one young man stumbled towards me. He had heard about my interviews, and was eager to be a subject.

As his breath reeked of alcohol, and he had to hold onto my shoulder to remain standing, I knew I was in for a great answer. However, what I got was the most interesting of response the night, but not for the reasons you would expect.

“Because of the very nature of ISIS, it’s not like you can just turn them off. There’s always gonna be anti-semitism and hate no matter what we do. If anything, we need drone strikes on major hideouts and the freezing of any funds supporting them.”

He continued saying, “But ISIS doesn’t really exist because of the west, so we need a fundamental change in the Arab world to truly stop them. They need to move past the past and move towards a more progressive future.”

“We need to change what those people learn as kids, and keep the hateful out of teaching positions and positions of power. Only then can we truly hope for a better future in the middle east.”

 

The Transformation of the Japanese Legislature in the Aftermath of World War 2

Note: This analytical essay was initially submitted as a final paper for a Comparative Political Institutions course, and has been edited modified for the purposes of this blog.

Modern Japan is considered by many to be a beacon of democracy. However, Japan didn’t’ always have the democratic prominence that it is known for today. Before the conclusion of World War 2, Japan was an imperial nation, striving to conquer the rest of East Asia. The transformation of Japan into a democracy ushered on a multitude of drastic institutional changes. These changes are extremely evident in the restructuring of the Japanese legislature.

Historical context is necessary to understand the scale of this institutional reconstruction. In the early historical periods of the Paleolithic, Jomon, and Yayoi, the Japanese archipelago was inhabited by a series of independent tribes. Combined, these eras lasted from roughly 10,000 BC to 300 AD. Due to the nature of this society, there wasn’t any formalized legislature of sorts to be discussed. However, this all changed with the onset of the Kofun period.

Early into the common era, 300 years to be exact, Japan was successfully unified under a single emperor, and the regime type of Japan shifted to authoritarian. The emperor and his small group of elites were known as the Yamato Court. “As for regional control, according to the Chinese Book of Sui … the country was already divided into kuni (provinces), which were subdivided into agata. These territorial units were governed by Kuni no Miyatsuko and Agatanushi, who were responsible for collecting tribute” (Yamato Court, jref.com). In other words, the Yamato Court divided what was once the territory of a multitude of individual tribes into provinces and subdivisions known as agata. These agata were then appointed a specific regional leader. These regional leaders were typically people who were already local leaders, but now officially approved by the court. The Kuni no Miyatsuko and Agatanushi were responsible for collecting tribute from the citizens of their specific regions. Although extremely primitive by today’s standards, this was the first sign of somewhat unified legislative action in Japanese history. Basic legislative practices as discussed continued with some failures and successes for quite some time. While various different dynasties rose and fell, the same basic principles of tribute and taxation applied. Further drastic changes in the legislature of Japan, however, came about with the emergence of the Edo Period in the early 1600s.

The Edo Period began with rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate, a military regime that ruled from the early 1600s to the mid 1800s. They believed in complete Japanese isolationism, and disconnected the nation from all relations with the outside world. Therefore, all concentrations were on the internal politics of Japan. With this internal focus, the Tokugawa Shogunate completely changed the legislature of Japan on an unprecedented scale. By many standards, this was the first time the Japanese government had a true legislative branch. The Tokugawa Shogunate implemented a legislature very similar to a system of committees that you would see in modern legislatures. These groups were known as the Roju and Wakadoshiyori, the Ometsuke and Metsuke, and the San-Bugyo.

The Roju and Wakadoshiyori were responsible for ensuring smooth relations between the imperial court, the Buddhist temples, and the Shinto shrines. As Buddhism and Shintoism were the two most prominent religions in the country at the time, non-hostile relations between these religious institutions and the government was very important to Japanese stability.

The Ometsuke and Metsuke were responsible for monitoring the imperial court. They were appointed to do so in order to spot and thwart any form of rebellion against the government before it could truly take off. As the Tokugawa Shogunate was a military regime, rebellion was a genuine concern that needed to be monitored. Therefore, the Ometsuke and Metsuke were a pivotal part of the Edo Period legislature.

The San-Bugyo were, in modern terms, the accountants of the Tokugawa Shogunate. They were responsible for monitoring and organizing the funds and economics of temples, shrines, cities, and the Shogunate itself. As they dealt with the economics of the nation, they were a necessary component for the functionality of the Japanese government.

The conglomeration of these various groups composed a political institution that is very reminiscent to a simplified modern committee-based legislature. It was the first time Japan operated with a somewhat modernized government system. However, due to intense isolationism, the Edo Period prevented Japan from modernizing at the pace of the rest of the world. This issue would shape Japan, and the legislature of the nation, for the rest of its history.

As evident by the modern condition of Japan, the nation’s isolationism had to come to a close. With the dawn of the era that is known as the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan, as a nation, was completely reshaped. With what is perhaps the most drastic transformation of the nation (other than in the aftermath of World War 2), Japan ended its isolationism. The emperor at the time, Meiji, saw the technological, political, and imperial progress that western nations had made while Japan was isolated, and wanted to emulate it. For the first time in Japan’s history, a semi-democratic constitutional monarchy government was implemented. However, the slightly democratic components of the Meiji regime did not last for long. Using a variety of influences from a multitude of European nations, Meiji constructed a culturally appropriated government, borrowing what he considered to be the “highlights” of European culture. In essence, Meiji created a “European” nation in East Asia.

With the onset of the Meiji Restoration came the construction of a formalized legislature as we understand the term. Based on the success of bicameral legislatures in multiple European nations, Japan constructed their own bicameral legislative branch known as the Imperial Diet. What was unique about the Imperial Diet, and the other political institutions of the time, was that the emperor was actually a part of it. He was a member of all of the institutions below him, and used his membership to actively pass and uphold statute.

The Imperial Diet was composed of two branches, the House of Representatives and the House of Peers. Members of the House of Representatives were directly elected by voters. However, who was allowed to vote at the time was very limited. Male, purely Japanese citizens were the only people allowed to vote, with some limited exceptions. Members of The House of Peers, on the other hand, were all aristocrats, given positions based on their nobility.

The process of passing legislation in the Imperial Diet was somewhat similar to how it works in the current Japanese legislature. A bill must pass through both the House of Representatives and the House of Peers. However, after passing through both, it must also be approved by the emperor. The emperor had the final say on the passing of all statute within his empire, with no exceptions.

The Imperial Diet operated successfully for the rest of the 19th century, and most of the early 20th century. However, international history has prominent impacts on not just the members involved, but the world as a whole. While Japan wasn’t actively involved in World War 1, it suffered tremendous consequences from the conflict. After the war, most of the world entered a period of economic depression, Japan being no exception. This was not aided by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

The earthquake nearly destroyed Tokyo, which was the current capital of Japan. Tokyo was the center of Japan’s imperial power, and the hub for all of the nation’s political institutions. This devastated the government of Japan at the time, and only amplified their intense economic depression. The Japanese imperial government, including all of the political institutions that composed it, were on the brink of collapse, and needed to find a way to survive. They found savior in the abandonment of any democratic tendencies, and the conquering of neighboring territory.

Japan had been enemies with its western neighbor China since its ancient inception. China served as a threat for imperial Japan, due to its sheer size and influence in the region. Before there was any official alliance, Japan was already receiving aid from Germany, and actively aggressing China. However, in order to ensure that the Japanese empire would be safe from its enemies (mainly China) during this time, the Japanese legislature decided to enter the Tripartite Pact. The pact, signed between the three major world powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan, ensured that each would be there to protect each other if they were to be attacked by a non-pact nation. “The Pact also recognized the two spheres of influence. Japan acknowledged the leadership of Germany and Italy in the establishment of a new order in Europe, while Japan was granted lordship over Greater East Asia” (This Day in History, September 27th 1940, history.com). In other words, while Italy and Germany were busy conquering the rest of the Europe, Japan would begin the acquisition of East Asia. The Tripartite Pact was responsible for officially entering Japan into World War 2 in 1940.

World War 2 was a disastrous time for Japan. Even after the defeat of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the European front, Japan continued to battle the allied forces in the East Asian front. Imperial Japan was officially defeated in 1945, when two atomic bombs were dropped on the major Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With these bombs, the Japanese were given an ultimatum: surrender, or the rest of the archipelago would be destroyed. The emperor at the time, Hirohito, surrendered on the strict, non-negotiable terms of the allied forces. This is where the greatest legislative transformation in Japanese history took place.

The conditioning of Japan’s surrender was written in a document known as the Potsdam Declaration. This document was collaboratively drafted by the United States, the United Kingdom, and China. The requirements stated in the Potsdam Declaration, while seemingly simple, would completely transform Japan as a nation. Japan was to end all forms of imperialism. In other words, the nation was required to give up all of the territory that it conquered during its time as an empire. The territory that made up Japan was limited to the four largest islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Specific smaller islands were also allowed to remain under Japanese rule. This created the borders that define modern day Japan. To further prevent the threat of imperialism, the emperor was stripped of all of his power, and the title was reduced to a ceremonial status, similar to that of the queen in England. In other words, the emperor no longer had any political power. The allied forces were also allowed permanent military occupation in designated areas, in order to ensure Japan wouldn’t fall back into its imperialistic tendencies. The Japanese military was to be disbanded, and restructured on the terms of the allied forces. All Japanese industry and economics were allowed to continue, and actually encouraged, in order to foster capitalism. If not evident by the previous requirements, Japan was required to become a full-fledged democracy. The government was to promote freedom of speech, religion, and thought; something that was previously unheard of in the nation. However, what is pivotal to this discussion is the restructuring of every key political institution in the Japanese government; including the legislature

The modern Japanese legislature, while operating on a similar basis as its imperial predecessor, was ultimately transformed by the Potsdam Declaration. Japan has maintained this legislative system to date. Replacing the emperor, the legislative branch currently holds the largest amount of power in the Japanese government. The current legislature, located in the capital of Tokyo, was renamed from the Imperial Diet to the National Diet. The maintained bicameralism of the legislature is present in its division between an upper and lower house. The lower house is called the House of Representatives, while the upper house is called the House of Councillors.

The House of Representatives is made up of 480 members, who serve four year terms, unless removed from their positions earlier. However, not all of these members are elected in the same manner. House of Representatives elections are conducted in two ways. 300 representatives are elected through a single-member plurality, or first past the post, electoral system. The other 180, however, are selected via party-list proportional representation. In other words, each political party composes a list of potential candidates. As Japan has an open list electoral system, individual representatives are specifically chosen off of these lists based on popularity.

The House of Councillors is made up of 242 members, roughly half the amount of the House of Representatives. While half serve three year terms, the other half serve four. 146 are chosen through single non-transferable votes. These elections take place within each of the 47 prefectures that make up Japan. In other words, you can only vote for a representative in the prefecture that you reside in. The other 96, however, are selected proportionally. Since Japan uses an open list system, councillors are are individually chosen by the people, as opposed to the people voting for a party as a whole, who then decides on members for them. Councillors are voted upon off of a national list. In other words, if a person is not on this list, they can not be voted upon to occupy one of the 96 seats available.

Perhaps the most drastic institutional change with regards to the Japanese legislature is in power. As an imperial nation, the emperor had ultimate power. He had the final and strongest say over statute, as well as any other matters of the nation. However, as the Potsdam Declaration stripped the emperor down to a purely ceremonial position, the legislature is currently the most powerful institution in the Japanese government. The reduction of the power of the emperor position also allowed the legislature to be the only political institution in the nation able to pass statute, or make laws.

The legislature of Japan gained other prominent powers with the implementation of Potsdam reformations. The National Diet currently controls both the budget and international treaties of the nation. They also have the ability to investigate both specific members of government, as well as governmental institutions as a whole, if they begin to sense corruption or wrongdoing. To further this power, the Diet has the ability to impeach any government official, including the Prime Minister, if they are deemed unfit to serve. As many other legislatures do, they are also able to ratify the constitution, if necessary.

Both chambers of the legislature are required to have a single annual meeting, but are permitted to meet multiple times a year if necessary. In order for a meeting to count as legitimate, at least ⅓ of the members of each respective house must be present. Meetings are ceremonially begun and concluded by the emperor, regardless of his lack of ability to participate in said meetings.

The House of Representatives has more legislative power than the House of Councillors. However, to combat any unfair balance, the House of Councillors is able to postpone any budget or treaty decisions made by the House of Representatives. Regardless of this legislative structure, any bill must still be voted upon in both chambers, and must be given final approval by the emperor. However, unlike in imperial Japan, the emperor is required to approve every bill, making the action a tradition, rather than a legitimate political act.

Evidently, Japan has undergone multiple legislative transformations throughout its history as a nation. From isolationist, to imperial, to democratic; Japan’s legislature has been restructured to fit each period of the country’s history. With the fall of imperial Japan at the end of World War 2 came the transformation of Japan from an empire to a democracy. This major political transformation reshaped the legislature of the nation into the format it currently operates under today. As Japan is currently one of the most prominent world democracies, this legislative change is anything but unimportant.

Sources Cited:

  1. The Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions (Edited By: R. A. W. Rhodes, Sarah A. Binder and Bert A. Rockman)
  2. Lecture Slides (Constructed By: Professor Kreppel)
  3. Websites Used

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 15

Media has a pivotal role in the understanding of international conflicts. Whether it be through newspapers, television, radio, or the internet; the media has the job of explaining and presenting said conflicts to the masses. If it does so correctly, it has the potential to create a catalyst for change. However, if done incorrectly, it could have disastrous consequences.

The center of said problems with international conflict coverage can be found in what can be seen as the biggest center of media in the world, the United States. The U.S. tends to cover these affairs in a less than ethical manner. This malpractice can be simplified into four key patterns, which will be discussed through the rest of this blog post.

When the U.S. covers a conflict happening in a different area of the world, they tend to simplify the conflict, creating arbitrary brackets that the masses can understand. This action, however, could lead people to understand the conflict incorrectly, and potentially underestimate or overestimate the danger of said conflict. The U.S. also tends to give certain conflicts more media representation than others. This is due to bias towards the area of the world that these conflicts are taking place in. This bias can be related to allies, or even to make enemies look worse. The U.S. also tends to take a U.S. centric approach to foreign conflict. They tend to ask how will this affect me, rather than relaying the facts or calling for action. The U.S. also tends to amplify or de-amplify the true amount of violence in a conflict, in order to garner greater readership or viewership from people who desire to see both ends of the spectrum.

Evidently, while the U.S. is a media powerhouse, it has its issues with regards to covering international conflicts. This malpractice can be presented through four key media patterns. These patterns cause U.S. citizens to often misunderstand said conflicts, which could have disastrous effects in the long run.

Sources:

  1. http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/example/youn7500.htm
  2. http://newint.org/features/2012/09/01/media-war-coverage/