Saturday, February 23, 2008

Inside the Hatoyama Mind

My favorite quote of the week:

「もう一度、語学の勉強をしたほうがいい。」

"It would be a good thing for him to go back and do language study one more time."
That was former National Police Agency bureaucrat and House of Representatives member Kamei Shizuka's assessment when asked about Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio's contention on February 13 that the infamous Kumamoto vote buying case could not be called enzai (冤罪)—a false prosecution.

(An aside, but Kamei Shizuka's emergence as a severe critic of the excesses of the criminal justice system, including his steadfast opposition to the death penalty, is becoming distressing. Pleasantly distressing, that is.)

The Mainichi Shimbun, echoing the feelings of many within the LDP, calls Hatoyama Kunio's continued presence in the Cabinet "the government's Achilles heel." His tenure in the country's most somber post even after hilariously bizarre statements ("my friend of a friend who is an Al-Qaeda member has entered Japan on numerous occasions using false identities" "Does a death warrant really need my signature—can't we make the process more automated?") have made it impossible to fire anyone for anything.

The anti-government coalition is currently calling for the resignation or dismissal of Minister of Defense Ishiba Shigeru as a response to the MSDF Atago's collision with a fishing vessel. Were Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo to try to can Ishiba, however, someone could very easily ask:

"Is this really a firing offense? What about Hatoyama Kunio?"

To which there is no adequate response.

The February 21 Mainichi article speculates that Hatoyama Kunio's continued survival might be attributable to the Democratic Party of Japan's refusal to press for his departure...and that the DPJ's lack of enthusiasm for a Hatoyama Kunio resignation arises from a wish to spare his brother, DPJ Secretary-General Hatoyama Yukio, further embarrassment. The article notes that the two brothers intend to open a training center for future politicians in April—and guesses that no one in the DPJ wants to undermine the inauguration of the center.

Just what either of the Hatoyamas, both of whom are prone to politically tone-deaf utterances, thinks he could teach to aspiring politicians escapes me:

"Please sit down. Welcome to your first day at the Hatoyama Institute. How does one become a successful politician? If my many years in politics have taught me anything—and my brother will back me up on this observation—you need to be born into an extremely wealthy household--this first of all--and your father has to be head of a major political party.

After you have these basics down, you can then move on to the more esoteric qualities..."

1 comment:

Janne Morén said...

A cynical take is that DPJ most definitely wants the guy to stay, and preferably up until the next election. He just keeps shoveling lumps of political gold their way as long as he is in a position of power within the LDP.

Don't feel too bad, though; some years ago we had a Minister of Energy in Sweden who quite seriously proposed that we could cut the country's energy use by using a lot more batteries instead.