The king of one tribe in Polynesia in ancient times was bound hand and foot. He feared that his super-natural powers, known as "mana," were so strong that if he contacted ordinary people whose mana was weak, it would threaten their lives. Lords were believed to possess strong mana, which isolated them from ordinary people.
This was described in the "Nihon Dai Hyakka Zensho" encyclopedia. "Mana" was introduced in the West for the first time between the 19th century and the early 20th century as a word that refers to super-natural powers that residents of the Melanesia Islands believed existed in people and objects.
Melanesians believed warriors could defeat their enemies not because they had strong muscles but because they possessed mana.
Switching to modern times, Naoto Kan, the leader of the westernmost archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, is about to step down after already using up his scarce mana. Kan has officially announced that he is leaving following the passage of two key bills -- one on the issuance of special government bonds to finance measures to restore quake- and tsunami-hit areas and the livelihoods of disaster victims, and the other requiring utilities to buy renewable energy at fixed prices. He had pledged to step down on condition that opposition parties guarantee that these bills would be passed into law.
Over less than five years, three leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and two heads of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) including Kan used up their mana and resigned only about a year after they took office.
Prime Minister Kan proudly said he did what he was required to do. However, he has actually abandoned numerous key policy measures he had pledged to implement and has been slow to respond to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
None of the candidates in the DPJ presidential election to pick a successor to Kan appear to have enough mana to lead the country. They are rather desperately struggling to gain support from as many party members as possible under mana released by other influential members who are not running in the race. Their insight and ability to govern appear lacking.
However, the problem is not limited to the DPJ. What is happening to the DPJ leadership race suggests that the political world as a whole is losing the mana indispensable to rule the country. Those who will cast their ballots in the DPJ presidential election should have a strong sense of crisis about this point. ("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)
(Mainichi Japan) August 27, 2011