Monday, August 20, 2007

More on Sekō Hiroshige

When the history of the Abe Shinzō collapse is written, the chapter on Sekō shushō hosakan will be a long and unbelievable one.

Sekō Hiroshige is nominally the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for Public Relations. In reality Sekō is the the anti-Karl Rove, the Trofym Lysenko, the Marie Antoinette of the Abe Cabinet's PR efforts. The positive of impact of his ideas has been immeasurable.

Seriously, there is simply no measurable positive impact from his ideas.

As for the negative impact, rescued from comments is an account of his brilliant PR trip to the United States in support of the Japanese government's effort to squelch House Resolution 121, the so-called "Honda Resolution":

(A huge round of applause for reader "Lyons Wakeman" who forwards this translation)


Abe Administration's PR Officer 'Publicizes' Comfort Women Issue in US Papers"
Shukan Bunshun

March 22, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing increasing criticism around the world on the comfort women issue. An editorial of The New York Times (6 March issue) criticized him and said "Abe should apologize." On 8 March, the same paper carried testimonies by former comfort women under a sensational headline, "Sex Slaves" on its front page. This wave of criticism has spread to other countries in the world, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is frantically trying to put out the fire.

However, why is it that the comfort women issue is receiving such attention in the US media now? Actually, somebody started the fire -- namely, Abe's assistant for public relations, Hiroshige Seko.

Seko visited the United States from 19 February. He went on the trip declaring confidently to Kantei [Prime Minister's Official Residence] officials that, "I am going to explain how Prime Minister Abe really feels" about the resolution on Japan's apology to the comfort women submitted to the US House of Representatives.

However, a Kantei source says: "Mr Seko's plan was off the mark. He made the visit to the United States in full knowledge of the fact that the House of Representatives was in recess for a week for holidays, and members of the House had all went home to their constituencies. As a result, he wasted over 2 million yen of government money flying to the United States on first class and yet failed to meet even one single Congressman."

The only official he managed to see was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Pamela Stephens, a subordinate of Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.

The same Kantei source observes: "No Diet member would bother to travel all the way to meet such a low ranking official. Moreover, Ms Stephens knew nothing about the comfort women issue itself, and the meeting, ironically, made her think 'this is serious'."

Furthermore, what Seko did was counterproductive. He paid a visit to The New York Times, which started the controversy, the three major TV networks, and other leading media organizations.

A reporter in the United States says: "The comfort women issue is one of the human rights issues that have been taken up repeatedly in the Lower House. Nobody cared about it. Since the prime minister's assistant paid visits to media organizations specifically for this issue, this served to attract undue attention. In the first place, it was best to just ignore the resolution since it is not legally binding anyway."

After returning home, Seko reported to Abe that he "met a total of 60 people," but he hid the fact that he had not met even a single Congressman, whom he was supposed to persuade. Recently, he has been lying to reporters that "the comfort women issue was not discussed at all during the US trip" ...

An unfair, sneering hit job by one of the weekly scandal magazines?

Perhaps.

But wait, here is Sekō Hiroshige in an interview published on page 4 of the August 15 morning edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun, a paper that is supportive of the "Toward a Beautiful Country" program.

Listen in to what he thinks the public needs to understand before it can appreciate the Prime Minister's and the Cabinet's mysterious ways.


年金記録漏れ問題は広報で最善を尽くしたが、政治とカネの問題は閣僚人事も絡むので遠慮してしまった。アラーム(警鐘)を鳴らすべきだった。政府、自民党に関する問題は、早めにアセスメント(影響評価)し、首相、官房長官に報告を上げるよう改善する。政権の看板である「美しい国」という言葉が生活の実感と結びつかなかった。軌道修正を考えたい。「子供が親を殺すような社会は直さなければならない」というのも美しい国づくり。そうした「切り口」をどれくらい提示できるかだ。

We tried to be as open as possible in terms of the overflow of the public pension records. However, we had to refrain from activity as regards the "money and politics" (kane to seiji) problems because those were knotted up in Cabinet personnel decisions. Somebody should have sounded the alarm. For problems that will be linked to the the government and the LDP, it is necessary to quickly produce an assessment (asesumento), to report to the prime minister and the chief cabinet minister and improve the situation.

The signboard for the administration "A Beautiful Country" has never been linked to actual feelings people have about their daily lives. I want to think about a course correction. Building a beautiful country is "the reform of a society where things are happening like children killing their parents." Now, how far can we go in presenting such jagged edge thinking?

Yes, you read it correctly.

The PM's primary media strategist wants everyone to understand that "building a beautiful Japan" means, among other things, making patricide and matricide "not OK."

In his view when you explain the "beautiful country" program in such concrete examples as the dissuasion of the killing of parents by children--actual feelings people have in their daily lives--then the public will appreciate what the government is trying to do.

I know what you are thinking:

"Utsukushii kuni e assumes that our current society is sending out messages like killing your mother and father is not necessarily bad...and the prime minister's program of a revival of Meiji State values will put a stop to such moral confusion?"

"No one could be this cretinous."

Oh, no? Just imagine the mental acuity of the person who hired and retained such a man to run his PR campaigns.

2 comments:

Garrett said...

Excellent post! Seko should be highlighted more and I, myself, have been remiss in overloking his influence.

I remember last Fall, getting somewhat caught up in Dr. Robert Angel's enthusiasm over Seko. (A PR guy with PR experience?)

Then he seemed to drop off the radar - odd considering he's the PR guy.

I neglected to ask the obvious question, one that should especially be asked about all Cabinet ministers: Sure, he had PR experience, but was he any good at it?

We have the answer now.

Jun Okumura said...

He lives!

Seriously,

A Beautiful Country: Where Children Don't Kill Their Parents

You gotta problem with that?