Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Live Blogging The Masuzoe Yo'ichi Press Conference
Preliminaries - smart move by Masuzoe - having his top assistant collecting name cards for a contact database. After the recent, almost searing contempt for the foreign journalist community by members of the Abe Cabinet, an endearing gesture of wanting to establish a continuing, fruitful partnership
14:00 Reading from a script in English - not bad for a Francophile and Francophone Japanese.
14:05 Extemporaneous joke on what used to be called MacArthur Street, now Shintora (from Shinbashi to Toranomon) -- since tora is "tiger" he wonders whether it makes Osaka's Hanshin Tigers fans happy. He asks journalists to please call the road Olympic Road or Paralympic Road. Unless one appreciates the level of envy Osaka feels for Tokyo and contempt Tokyo feels for Osaka, probably not very funny or even comprehensible.
14:10 Special programs for working women amidst the list of infrastructure projects - seems a zeitgeist box every politician has to tick off nowadays. For some reason I believe Masuzoe more than the PM on this subject, despite the efforts of the scandal media organizations to convince me that Masuzoe still holds on to odd ideas about women.
14:15 Uh-oh, talking about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles - seduction by technologies the central government and Toyota are pushing hard.
14:17 Strengthen WiFi networks - his visit to Seoul was highly instructive. Given how geolocation and enhanced reality are developing on smart phones, a foreign language information infrastructure will make Tokyo a more tourist friendly city.
(Clearly Masuzoe is up on existing infotech infrastructure and software).
14:21 Disaster preparedness - perhaps not sexy for the foreign media set, but a huge subject after the Kobe Earthquake, the March 2011 Triple Disaster and recent super storms.
14:24 Social welfare capital - like Tokyo is not such a place already. He talks about his experience from being Minister of Health, his commuting between Tokyo and Kyushu to oversee the care for his mother during her long fight with Alzheimer's and his raising children. (The mention of the last led some of my tablemates to roll their eyes).
Yes, Mr. Governor - but how to pay for more social welfare? This city is ageing fast too.
14:27 Defense of why he is doing diplomacy and the establishment on July 16 of a special office in the Tocho for advisors seconded from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Notes that it has been 18 years since a Tokyo governor visited Seoul - "Can you believe this? This is really abnormal."
He has visited Beijing and Seoul since he won election to his new job -- more than the nominally peripatetic Abe Shinzo has been able to do.
14:45 Does Tokyo have what it takes to be an Asian Financial Center? Especially since English language skills are a general requirement? Oooooh, that is a mean question. Masuzoe skirts the human resources implications of question by talking about how business forms can be submitted in English.
14:50 "I am checking the budget for the Olympics. A compact Olympics means in terms of budget too, not just the artificial 8 km radius for venues."
14:55 "I have no interest in being the mediator in between the national governments of East Asia."
"City to city talks are my interest. As regards difficult Japan history issues, academics should be separated from politics."
Later - The basic impressions one come away with are:
1) Experience and Erudition - Masuzoe can make cogent comparisons with other locales and offer the background to a decision
2) Aware of Priorities - when a Hokkaido Shimbun journalist tried to draw him into discussing the unification of the ownership of Tokyo's two metro systems, Masuzoe told the questioner that he Masuzoe had far too many more important things to do than tackle that thorny but basically irrelevant issue
One comes away with the sense one can trust what Masuzoe says. Well, except when he starts talking about improving social welfare services (shakai fukushi) without talking about costs.
Then again, every Japanese politician has to lie about social welfare services provision.