For Langley Esquire, a blog post by yours truly -- "Feeling Festive" -- on the Yasukuni Autumn Festival and the prospects for a repeat of Abe Shinzo's sanpai sometime before December 27.
Surprisingly, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Takaichi Sanae did not take part in the mass 110 Diet member assault upon the halls of Yasukuni Shrine today. Her traditional spot in the troika of marching solons seem to have been snapped up by Aizawa Ichiro (Link) who with his 9 elections to the Diet is the most experienced LDP Diet member to have never been a Cabinet minister. That his fellow classmate in the first graduating class of the Matsushita Institute of Management and Goverment (Minister Takaichi is one of the Institute's few female grads) Democratic Party member Noda Yoshihiko has already been prime minister must make Aizawa's status of eternal bridesmaid even more galling.
Nothing can fluff up an appeal for a cabinet post like a front row appearance at Yasukuni, I guess.
Takaichi's not showing up on for the march does not mean she has abandoned her pattern of jut-jawed Yasukuni visits. The Autumn Festival lasts until the 20th so she still has plenty of time to tuck in her promised visit.
What will be interesting will be to see whether other Cabinet ministers pay their respects at Yasukuni over the weekend. I am still holding out hope that Women's Empowerment Minister Arimura Haruko (A.K.A. "the McDonald's lady") will show up. Come on, Admiral Togo Heihachiro is one of Arimura's ancestors.
Despite the international fascination of Yasukuni, the struggles of Minister of Economics, Trade and Industry Obuchi Yuko's with allegations of multiple small violations of public campaign finance laws and political funds laws (Link) is the focus of the domestic news media attention right now, to the exclusion of much else.
So it is deja vu all over again in Japan Political News Reporting.
Later - Takaichi, Arimura and National Safety Commissioner Yamatani Eriko all paid their respects at Yasukuni on Saturday, October 18. (Link)
Obuchi Yuko's position has seemingly grown untenable, with the mid-careers in the party calling for her resignation (Link - J). That her parentage and cuteness allowed her to vault to the head of the line in ministerial appointments among her peers did not cause any resentment among those left bereft. None at all.
A spectacular, flaming failure of the Nukaga Faction's marquee appointment to the reshuffled Abe Cabinet 2.0 will shake the faction to the core. The Nukaga faction's accomodation with the Machimura superfaction contributed to former Health, Welfare and Labour Minister Tamura Norihisa's and former House of Councillor Diet Affairs Chair Waki Masashi's decisions to turn in their faction badges. The sudden shuddering halt to the rise of the faction's princess, whom intemperate voices were proclaiming the "next prime minister after Abe but one" and "the favorite to be the first female prime minister of Japan" after the reshuffle, will very likely lead to further defections -- maybe even the faction's complete breakdown.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Longtime readers might recall that I have predicted the end of Tanakaism before. (Link)