THE SILVER CASE: What Is Uehara Kamui?

Screenshot of Flower, Sun, and Rain. A hyena with white fur striped with gray stands on a metal platform. Tokio says, "Rich people across the world are desperate to get their hands on one."

Before continuing on this point, however, another important consideration is the timeframe of the Shelter Kids Policy. The TRO/CCO consolidates power in 1979, and, according to the official timeline, Hachisuka Kaoru, really Uminosuke, becomes mayor in 1980. The new administration runs the Kamui Maspro and then Ayame Maspro from 1980 to 1988. I base the latter dates on Nakategawa’s claim in “Decoyman” that the project was put into action “twenty years ago” and on Sakura’s description of four years spent on the “Kamui generation” followed by another four for the “Ayame generation.” It is true that twenty years before 1999 would be 1979, not 1980, but I take Nakategawa to be rounding: though the specific date varies, consistent between all the different Kamui narratives is that the Silver Case occurred in December 1979, and the Kamui Maspro cannot have happened before the Silver Case. The Shelter Kids Policy, then, corresponds to the 1980s, and the syndicates of ELBOW consolidated power at the end of the 1970s.

Aside from the death throes of the Soviet Union and its satellites, the outstanding political and economic development of the real-world 1980s was the triumph of neoliberalism. This is the ideology that maintains free markets bring freedom, but in effect, these policies have offered it only to business leaders, bringing austerity, increased military and police spending, replacing government functions with private operations, lowering taxes on the rich, stripping workers of rights and power, and inviting the “free market” to dominate every sphere of life. While of course class conflict existed as long as classes have, the extreme degree of wealth inequality that exists today has resulted from these policies. This ideology has become such a consensus among those in power that even nominally moderate left parties in many “developed” countries accept it. The rise of neoliberalism is most strongly associated with Margaret Thatcher, who became prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1979, and Ronald Reagan, who assumed the US presidency in 1981.

Photograph of Ronald Reagan and Nakasone Yasuhiro in a golf cart. Reagan is driving. It is April, and there are no leaves on any trees in the foggy woods around them.
13 April 1986. Nakasone Yasuhiro (left) with Ronald Reagan (right). Source.

Of course, this process is relevant to Japan as well. Nakasone Yasuhiro, the particularly pro-US prime minister of Japan from 1982 to 1987, followed Reagan’s lead. In 1981, while director of the Administrative Management Agency, Nakasone began the privatization of Japan’s major public corporations (Tanaka and Tadokoro 202). He appealed to US requests to increase military spending, famously saying that Japan should become “an unsinkable aircraft carrier,” and he and Reagan were allegedly on a first-name basis, the “Ron–Yasu relationship” (199). Fitting their neoliberal policies, in the Recruit scandal (another 事件) that gnawed away at Japanese public trust in the government at the end of the ’80s, Nakasone and several members of his former cabinet were caught up in financial crimes (Jimbo). But the former prime minister himself was never proven guilty and refused to resign from the Diet.

Some analysts blame Japan’s bubble economy and the resultant recession on neoliberal policy. For instance, in “The Bubble Economy and Financial Crisis in Japan,” Hiromi Tsuruta of Kansai University attributes the recession in large part to deregulation and the resultant irresponsibility and corruption of private institutions and the Ministry of Finance. “Financial deregulation caused bubbles to develop not only in Japan, but also in other major countries, and it is one of the major factors of unrest in the financial system of the 1990s” (28). These policies, then, partially account for the alienation and disillusionment associated with the “Lost Decade,” the same one whose anxieties of atomization and lost opportunity flavor the reconstruction of the 24th Ward in Moonlight Syndrome through to the urban hell of The 25th Ward. Neoliberalism is as relevant to Japan as it is to the rest of the world—and was initially enacted there, as elsewhere, over the 1980s.