Another very brief post, as I have yet another place to run to.
As regards the candidates:
As Wataru Tenga guesses in his comment to my last post, Machimura Nobutaka was not present. As the eldest of the five candidates, his succumbing to illness is not surprising -- the pace of the campaign being, as I noted in my last post, ridiculous in its intensity.
We hope for his early recovery. He is for all intents and purposes out of the race.
Really surprising was how chipper former prime minister Abe Shinzo looked. He indeed had none of the "I am about to explode" look and fist clenching under the table which have been his trademarks in this election campaign. Given six minutes for an opening statement, he spent 5 minutes and 45 seconds on Sino-Japanese relations, the deterioration of which have clearly perked him up.
Abe's sudden swerve into a comfort zone brings to mind the story of the Beirut psychiatrist who found that the sense of well-being of some of his patients improved as the country slid deeper and deeper into civil war. As everyday life unraveled, a reality of random death and ever-present fear became more consonant with the patients' own pathological views.
Ishihara Nobuteru's hair was black and styled today, rather than orangey-brown and sticking straight up as it was last week, making him look less like Beaker.
The makeover did not make Ishihara look more the winner. Of the four candidates, he was easily the most tentative, the most centrist in his thinking -- of the four candidates he was the only one to call for support for Foreign Minister Gemba Ko'ichiro during this time of crisis.
Ishihara did offer an interesting prescription for fighting deflation: putting folks to work. Drive down the unemployment rate, he suggested, and inflation will surge into positive territory.
Interesting. Just how one creates employment is the tricky bit of the equation, of course.
Hayashi Yoshimasa, while not exactly declaring himself a sideshow, did not comport himself as a serious candidate either. He indulged himself with philosophizing. When asked about his policies regarding nuclear power, he prefaced his remarks with the observation that he was of the era of both Godzilla and Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu), where the Janus-face of the atom was the subject of debate in popular culture. He also did not endear himself with the other candidates when confronted with the question: "What makes you the correct person to be leader of the LDP?" After fumbling about, he blurted out that he was someone the people could trust.
Smooth move. Really smooth.
Seems he forgot he has still has several more days of standing up on top of minibuses with the other three candidates.
To be continued...