I go away for two weeks and the country goes bonkers.
Item #1: Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki's loan
You are a man of utter probity and profound knowledge, who has just lost his wife and life partner. You have never run for public office in your life and you are suddenly up for the post of the most powerful local government official on Earth, for a city that thanks to you has just won the right to host an Olympics. You are going into the race without a political support group or even a single paid staff member. A shadowy right wing figure approaches you, takes you to a Kamakura hospital and introduces to a nearly totally paralyzed tycoon who asks you, "How are you doing financially?" You quibble. A week later, the man's son calls you in to his office, which is inside the House of Representatives building. He puts 50 million yen ($500,000) in cash on the table and says, "This is a loan. You do not have to pay me interest. You can repay me whenever you want. I only want to help you out. Just to make sure we are on the up-and-up, here is a note verifying the loan."
What does a stressed out, exhausted Inose Naoki do, especially when the loan will be entirely legal? (Link)
Item #2: Blogging The Official Secrets Bill
A bill declaring vast areas of what should be public knowledge "official secrets" and criminalizing investigative reporting and whistle-blowing skulks, unseen, through the halls of the Diet. Stealthily and silently, it lurches toward passage. Suddenly it is dragged out into the sunlight and stamped on the public consciousness by a blog post by actress and model heretofore known mostly for her sacré bleu poitrine. Suddenly, every editorialist and commentator has something to say about the bill, most of which are expressions of stunned disbelief at the bill's sweep and imprecision. To make matters all the weirder, the role of sherpa for the supposedly crucial, ground-breaking, nation-saving bill is given to the state minister for consumer affairs -- the most junior member of the Cabinet.
Despite the public outcry at the unnecessary severity and breadth of the bill, or perhaps because of the outcry, the government rushes the bill through committee, managing to lose, for the first time in recent memory, all the votes of one of the parties that had submitted the bill. A hell-bent rush to railroad the bill through the House of Councillors hits a granite wall, however, when Ishiba Shigeru the secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, in, yep, a blog post, equates members of the public peacefully assembling and yelling out slogans against the bill to terrorism.
Way to give the despondent opposition to the bill a jolt of adrenaline, Mister "Now-you-know-why-my-Diet-colleagues-would-not-vote-me-head-of-the-LDP-even-though-I-won-the-majority-of-votes-in-the-first-round" -- and with only four days left in the extraordinary session for the House of Councillors to pass the bill! (Link)
To which I can only say, "Amaterasu bless the blog post, the salvation of this blessed land!"
Item #3: Kinshasha Embassy Burning
This morning we have gracing the news reports the incredible arrest of a Japanese diplomat for setting the fire that gutted the Embassy of Japan in Kinshasha. Given the severity of Japanese law as regards arson and the level of respect accorded the careerists of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is one is going to be
1) the first act of what will be one heck of a legal circus
2) an opportunity for a very embarrassing public review of Gaimusho hiring policies.
(Link - J)
And I have not even begun to think about the implications of China's new air defense zone!