大飯なるThis morning's Tokyo Shimbun has an exclusive report with a screaming banner headline stretching across the whole top of the broad sheet:
Chaban ni ikari
The grand farce of Oi
We pass it by
Alternate (see the below acknowledgment)
The grand farce of Oi
Leaves me beyond anger
「チーム仙谷」再稼働主導 首相・閣僚４者協議 形だけThe article purports that the four-man (yes sadly, all men) council charged (pun unintended) with deciding whether the nuclear reactors of Japan, starting with Kansai Electric Power Company’s Oi Power Station Units #3 and #4, will restart or not, has been superseded by a five-man team (ibid) led not by the prime minister but Sengoku Yoshito, the Acting Chairman of the Democratic Party of Japan’s Policy Research Council.
Leading the (Reactor) Restart Is "Team Sengoku": The Prime Ministerial Council of Four is a Figurehead
One part of the shock value of this report is supposed to come from the revelation that the prime minister is not primarily responsible for leading a decision of such immense magnitude and significance. The other is that the real leader is a person of operating from a post of relatively minor status, nominally far below those of the ministers he is leading.
The membership of the Council of Four is Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko, Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura Osamu, Minister of Economics, Trade and Industry Edano Yukio and Minister of the Environment and State Minister for the Nuclear Accident Settlement and Prevention Hosono Goshi. "Team Sengoku" is supposedly composed of Sengoku, Edano and Hosono together with State Minister for National Policy Furukawa Motohisa and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saito Tsuyoshi.
According to the report, Noda and Fujimura are so busy with ushering through the legislation needed to raise the consumption tax to 10% that they have ceded formal operation of the Council to this unofficial group.
If this report is accurate, the ceding of the restart decision to a group led by Sengoku seems great news for advocates for a quick return to nuclear power. Sengoku is seen as the great pragmatist, with an overarching view of national goals far beyond immediate politics and traditional stances. According to the report, he also in his years in the opposition was close to the power industry, a closeness he maintained during his time as the head of the national strategy office and as Kan Naoto's Chief Cabinet Minister.
However, opponents to nuclear power should take heart from the report as well. Despite his much lauded smarts (E) Sengoku has a black thumb: everything he touches seems to turn to mud.
Like Liberal Democratic President Tanigaki Sadakazu, Sengoku has a reputation for policy brilliance that outstrips his achievements. Unlike the featherweight Tanigaki, however, Sengoku's stumbles have had serious consequences. His almost indescribably bad resolution of the Chinese ship captain arrest crisis, carried out while Prime Minister Kan was out of the country, not only made him a marked man (the House of Councillors eventually censured Sengoku, forcing his resignation as Chief Cabinet Minister) but fatally wounded the Kan administration.
Sengoku's farsightedness, while admirable in isolation, possibly makes him blind to present day reality.
Speaking of reputations, former Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio has got himself into a heap of trouble with his ill-considered private visit to Iran.
Hatoyama on his own after 'private' Iran tripAdmittedly, "ill-considered" is superfluous in a sentence about Hatoyama. One strains to remember a decision he has made which has avoided descent into the "ill-considered" category. One may laud his decision to resign as prime minister and his commitment to take Ozawa Ichiro with him as "salutary" – but was his decision in that instance "carefully considered"? No.
The administration distanced itself Tuesday from the brewing controversy stemming from a visit by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to Iran, which was carried out over government objections.
Hatoyama was quoted by Tehran as criticizing the International Atomic Energy Agency for "applying double standards" to the country in his talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the former prime minister denied making such comments after he returned to Japan on Monday…
As for the Iranians, all congratulations to them. Clearly they have been reading up on Hatoyama. They knew that they could print whatever passel of nonsense they could dream up, fully aware that when Hatoyama returned home and complained that he had never said anything of the things attributed to him, no one would believe him.
Regarding the senryu at the head of this post, it comes from what was an excellent batch printed in the Tokyo Shimbun three Saturdays ago. The last two weekends have been disappointing, with little to share in terms of topicality or clever word play.
The key in the above is oi naru. Oi is written in the kanji of the Oi nuclear power station. Naru would then be a classical version of the modern no. However, oinaru, if written only in kana (おおいなる) or with the kanji dai means "great" or "grand" (大いなる) becomes the adjective oinaru, meaning "great."
So oinaru chaban is at once "the Oi farce" and "the grand farce."
Later - Credit where credit is due: the senryu above is by Tezuka Tatsuo, a resident of Yachimata City, Chiba Prefecture. Printed in the Tokyo Shimbun of 12.03.24.
Later still - Many thanks to reader AG who has pointed out that if you curl around the last line break and add the article o, you get the phrase ikari o torikoshi, which means "beyond anger"