According to the conventional wisdom, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been blessed with a new set of more adept and aware English-language speechwriters, making Abe II a much easier international sell than Abe I was.
For those who have had the pleasure (?) of reading his book, though, in either of its versions, New Abe retains many of the defects of Old Abe. He is still offering the regurgitation of rote memorized bullet points, without bridges in between the points themselves. What is new about New Abe is the presentation of a broader topic list -- the offering of a greater variety of monochomatic sketches of potentially attractive subjects. New Abe also delivers his points and anecdotes with vim and vigor, rather than the hangdog look of haughty contempt of six years ago.
An honest desire to appear interested in what listeners might be interested in, however, cannot compete with the Prime Minister's unwillingness or inability to satisfy the human need for a defensible architecture of thought. Further crippling is the lack, even at this late date, of Mr. Abe having a sense of the kind of country he intends to craft via the Third Arrow of Abenomics.
The result, as can be judged from the text of his speech to the New York Stock Exchange (Link) is earnest, trivial, bewildering, winding and embarrassing rhetorical chaos. The smart money will applaud (because it is the smart money) but will note in the aide-mémoire only "Structural reform/YES, TPP/YES, More women/YES. Substance? NOTHING -- jury still out."
Later - The Mainichi Shimbun checks in with a report that a cool reception awaits the PM from within the Liberal Democratic Party in response his eager beaver rhetorical flourishes in New York. (Link)
Later still - Over at The Diplomat, Jonathan DeHart derides the speech as "a barrage of pop cultural references" and highlights the blowback from at least one of the PM's metaphors. (Link)
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