A distinguished professor of Japanese Studies emailed me a while ago asking me about one bit of Prime Minister Hatoyama's policy speech which he found incomprehensible, rather than just reprehensible.
"Urakudari (裏下り）?" the good professor wondered, "I am unfamiliar with this term." He asked me whether I had come across it.
I confessed that I had not. A cursory search of the Internet turned up no definitions.
The good professor was flabbergasted. Surely the PM would not use a made-up word in his official policy address to the Diet?
Well, I have some good news and bad news.
The bad news is that, yes, there was no such term as urakudari.
The good news is that everything has been all cleared up. Based on an inquiry from Yamauchi Koichi of the Everyone's Party -- who like the professor wanted to know what the heck he is supposed to think urakudari means -- the Cabinet passed an official proclamation (kakugi kettei) on Friday determining that henceforth urakudari means "reemployment that cannot be confirmed to be amakudari conducted via the good offices of government ministries and agencies but that nevertheless cannot help but raise suspicions that it is amakudari conducted as a matter of routine through these good offices."(「府省庁によるあっせんは確認されていないが、事実上の天下りあっせん慣行と疑念を抱かせる再就職」).
Oh Hatoyama-san. Isn't it great to have a Cabinet that can retroactively define the words you make up?
Too bad the Cabinet does not have a similar power to retroactively erase Yosano Kaoru's astonishing line of questioning in the Diet on Friday, when he used a story he heard from your gnat-brained brother to accuse you of being not just "the king of tax evaders" but also guilty of lying to the Diet and the populace about your knowledge of your mother's donations to your political funding organization? He also called you a yakuza for having your underlings take the fall for crimes you pushed them to commit -- but that was more a theatrical flourish than a crippling accusation.
Wow, talk about a blindsiding by a member of the Diet who until Friday was known for his geniality, perspicacity and tact...and betrayal by another stupid man (for it is a stupid man indeed who places party above family) whom until Friday could smilingly call you aniki.
All that is destroyed now. No Cabinet proclamation can repair the damage that has been done.
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