Reconstruction Minister Matsumoto Ryu, who managed to pack a career's worth of weird into a single weekend, has resigned.
It is hard to pick the best of the moments he has given us since his appointment just one week ago:
- At an indoor press conference, his sudden donning of tinted shades in order to declare, "I hate the Democratic Party; I hate the Liberal Democratic Party and I hate the New Komeito." (He had to apologize for saying that he hated the LDP and the New Komeito. Evidently hating his own party is either natural or forgivable.)
- His upbraiding of the governor of Miyagi Prefecture for coming into their meeting after he had entered the room and sat himself down.
- His telling the press after the fact that his rude tirade at the governor of Miyagi Prefecture was off the record, with "anyone writing about it will suffer." (Cue video!)
- His coming to his meeting with the governor of Iwate Prefecture bouncing a soccer ball, then his drop kicking the ball at the unprepared governor, who had it bounce off his chest.
- His blaming his blood type for his bizarre behavior.
- His telling the press that his wife told him to reflect upon his behavior.
- His telling the governor of Iwate Prefecture that the central government would not help those in the prefectures unless they came to a consensus on what they wanted to do.
- His telling the governor of Miyagi Prefecture that the central government will not help those who do not show creativity in solutions to their problems.
How Matsumoto could serve as Environment Minister and State Minister for Disaster Management without a single problem, only to go completely bananas on a tour of the disaster area following his elevation to State Minister for Reconstruction, is a thing of wonder.
Matsumoto's well-regarded deputy, Hirano Tatsuo, has been tapped to replace Matsumoto. He is seen as a pair of safe hands, having been in charge of disaster response since the beginning of the crisis.
However, the Matsumoto appointment and its spectacular flameout has inflicted a potentially mortal wound to the premiership of Kan Naoto. The feelings of the members of the DPJ's leadership circle, particularly Diet Affairs Chairman Azumi Jun, which had been on the mend from being kneed in the groin by Kan's luring of the LDP's Hamada Kazuyuki into resigning from his party (The resignation was rejected. Instead, the LDP expelled Hamada today) in return for a government post, are now burning with anger. As is his usual bent, party elder Watanabe Kozo has demanded that Kan resign this instant. His views, which are normally well of the scale, are probably reflecting the thoughts of an increasing number of the party's center. Kan cannot run away from his having appointed Matsumoto just one weekend ago, seeing as the mini-Cabinet reshuffle was sprung upon the DPJ without so much as a by-your-leave. With his Cabinet's support ratio now descending once again in the sub 20% range, Kan may find himself surrounded by dagger-bearers who will demand that he resign well before his self-imposed deadline of the passage of the second reconstruction bill, the government debt bill and the renewable energy resources bill.