Saturday, June 22, 2013

Prime Minister Abe On Facebook

The Asahi Shimbun insists that we pay for English language content (Link). Non-Japanese speakers have had to therefore wait for Toko Sekiguchi's account to learn about the Prime Minister's losing it when Tanaka Hitoshi chided the Abe administration for creating the impression of a rightward tilt in Japanese politics.
Japan PM Facebook Foray Draws Allies, Arguments

In the year since he opened his Facebook account, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has embraced the social media site in a way that's unlike any of his predecessors, praising it as a direct channel to the public...


In a newspaper interview, Hitoshi Tanaka, an ex-diplomat who played a crucial role in the negotiations between Tokyo and Pyongyang over the return in 2002 of five Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s, voiced his concern that the prime minister’s recent comments on wartime history and his push to revise the constitution were being perceived as Japan's "rightward tilt" by the international community.

Mr. Abe went on the offensive on his Facebook page, reminding his nearly 367,000 "followers" and some 4,800 "friends" that Mr. Tanaka claimed 11 years ago that the abductees should be eventually returned to North Korea as initially agreed to with Pyongyang. Mr. Abe called Mr. Tanaka's decision then "a decisive mistake for a diplomat," dismissing him as "unqualified to speak about diplomacy."

Right off the bat, though it was a non-sequitur, the prime minister was right about Tanaka's having been wrong about returning the abductees to North Korea. For the North Koreans to get double-crossed in a brutal, calculating way -- by the Japanese, of all people -- taught Pyongyang to not underestimate the mental tenacity of opponents -- a lesson the new DPRK leadership has, over the course of this last year, seemingly had to learn all over again.

More important, however, is what Abe's lashing out at critics has shown about his character.

First, that despite all the buffing from the message masters at home and allies in Washington, Abe remains insecure and reactionary, with an ability to descend into name calling when challenged. (Link)

Second, that those closest to him still think him a child:
Other lawmakers weighed in on the row. Economy Minister Akira Amari tried to downplay the round of name-calling, explaining this week that the 58-year-old prime minister is a "hot-blooded youth" whose endless duties have left him high-strung.
Amari, who has been gaffe-central in the Abe Cabinet through his inexplicable desire to tell the truth behind the fictions (Link) may have finally talked himself out of a job, post-House of Councillors election, with this last unhelpful "explanation."

Abe is 58 years old and prime minister. That he could still be, in the eyes of those closest to him, a "hot-blooded youth," should give everyone pause.

How much the Facebook posts actually reflect Abe's thinking, and how much is the product of pugnacious, defensive aides (and I am looking at you, Seko Hiroshige) hiding behind the PM whilst lobbing metaphorical bombs at "oppositionists" (Link), is a reasonable question.

Third, there is nothing more delicious than Abe being told by Koizumi Shinjiro, a man half the PM's age, to conduct himself in manner more becoming to his office.

Fourth and finally, someone might want to write about how the denizens of this famous land still, at this late stage of the game, lose themselves in social media -- lolling about in the ids they keep so hidden in other forms of discourse.

While we are on the subject of politicians and Facebook, can someone who knows Democratic Party of Japan leader Kaieda Banri tell him that it is OK to remove scurrilous and irrelevant comments from his Facebook page? It may be a sign of a noble character to suffer the slings and arrows of every single lunatic who spews out his venom, then hits the "send" button. However, no one should have to tolerate the vile abuse being dumped on Kaieda's posts.

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