Aside from being members of the Diet, what do Shimamuro Hakubun, Obuchi Yūko, Kosaka Kenji, Okada Katsuya, Kawaguchi Yoriko, Matsubara Jin, Hashimoto Taku, Ōsaka Seiji, Seko Hiroshige, Katayama Satsuki, Itokawa Masaaki, Noda Seiko and Ishihara Nobuteru have in commmon?
Nothing that I can tell...except that they all were in attendance today when the non-partisan political group Sentaku held its first meeting for interested Diet members.
Here is the list of the 107 attendees.
In attendance were:
51 Diet members from the LDP
47 from the DPJ
8 from the Komeito
1 from the Japan New Party
The attendees each knew why he or she was at the meeting. Unfortunately, as they looked around the room, they were probably wondering what the heck all these other Diet members were doing at the meeting.
If a word describes the membership of this club, "exclusive" is not it.
To be fair, a glance at the list reveals some patterns. The attendees listed tend toward the younger end of the political scale, with most of those in attendance in their fifties and forties. Very few attendees seem to be from the party bloc seats--which make sense as the Diet members from the blocs owe their seats to their party affiliation...and folks who owe their seats to their parties would be pushing the envelope if they were to be seen actively participating in a non-partisan group whose purpose is to "cleanse" (sentaku - 洗濯) politics and offer real "choice" (sentaku - 選択）。
The number of inherited seatholders--members who can hold on to their seats whether the leadership likes them or not--seems also fairly heavy.
Now I must confess...I have had the hardest time taking seriously a political movement whose name is a pun...or at least a tortured homophone. I must admit this first meeting was rather well attended.
Let us see how they do with the next one.
On the 9 p.m. NHK News, after the report on the meeting, the anchor asked her co-anchor, "All these cross-party study groups and associations forming, what could it mean?"
Normally, this is the co-anchor's cue to explain the world for us stupid people...but unbelievably, he did not answer the question.
He just let it hang there in the void.
A rhetorical question? On NHK? Could it be possible?