Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pointlessness, Redefined

A few days ago, our blogging robotics researcher Janne Morén wrote a note of encouragement to Prime Minister Asō Tarō, assuring him that even though he never got near a medal in his trip to the Olympics in 1976 he now had a serious shot the "Least Popular Postwar Prime Minister" gold.

At the time Herr Morén wrote his piece I thought him a bit too hopeful. Surely, though I, when the 9% support level record of Mori Yoshirō came into in his sights, the PM would find a way to step down to avoid a final indignity.

Now, after the Nakagawa affair, I would have to admit Herr Morén's post is almost certain to be prophetic. The PM's stubborn unwillingness to understand that he had to ask Nakagawa to go after the Finance Minister had humiliated himself and the country will likely be the final straw for the public. The newspapers are most assuredly gearing up for a special round of snap polls over the next few days, racing to be the first to publish (next Monday, most likely) a sub-9% result.

Which makes the announcement, made yesterday, seem all the more pointless:

White House to Host Japanese PM Aso Next Week
Fox News

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso is set to be the first foreign leader to visit the Obama White House next Tuesday.

The sit-down underscores the new administration's outreach to Asia.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, rather than heading to Europe or the Middle East, is currently on her first official trip abroad -- to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and China.

The visits are a nod to the growing importance of the region to America's economy and security...
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's visit to the White House would signal "a nod to to the growing importance of the region to America's economy and security." A visit by President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea or Prime Minister Wen Jiabao would be" a nod to the growing cetera."

A visit by the president of a moribund, fracturing LDP and a single-digit support Prime Minister of Japan Asō Tarō signifies ... nothing.

Or, at least, nothing within a margin of error.


Later - Over at Observing Japan, Tobias Harris gives this story the treatment it deserves. He also corrects an error in the above.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your reference to Macbeth surely deserves the full treatment given the state of the PMs popularity, and the uselesness of this planned meeting:

"Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Macbeth (Act V, Scene V).