I was watching Mino Monta's morning news variety show "Asa Zuba!" -- the show that was, during the Koizumi years, the morning show to watch in order to catch the pulse of the public. While once cutting edge, it has been drifting for some time, especially after the Abe Shinzō administration went out of its way to flatter Mino-san, resulting in what seemed to be a dulling down of his previously sharp and free-wheeling populist editorializing.
Anyway, Mino, his panel of three guests and the feature reporter were taking a look at Blaine Harden's Washington Post report on Prime Minister Asō Tarō's visit to the United States, published prior to the PM's meeting with President Barack Obama. Several of the lines from Harden's article making plain Asō's diminished stature ("he already ranks among the most gaffe-prone and unpopular leaders in Japan's postwar history," for example) were displayed on a board along with their Japanese equivalents. As the reporter went line by line, an ever-more deeply grimacing Mino could not hide his displeasure. In the end, he turned to his guests, asking them whether or not Harden had gone too far, saying such nasty things about their prime minister. The three guests nodded in agreement, one saying that the descriptions were "not fair."
I guess that none of them works for the Mainichi Shimbun -- or its affiliates.
Here is Mainichi's February 24, 2009 editorial cartoon's take on a pair of "two-shot" (tsū shotto - a photo of two persons together) photos with Asō Tarō - or, if you are a Liberal Democratic Party candidate facing a tough election and need an image for your campaign poster, not with Asō Tarō.
The caption, a message to Asō himself, reads, "The 'Two-Shot' photos know your popularity."
I guess that foreign correspondents based in Tokyo have a special requirement to be nice to the PM that does not apply to domestic journalism..and that Mino Monta is the man to tell them foreigners when they've stepped over the line.
Or on it.