Pantsu ga saki ni
Before "The Punch"
It is "The Pants" ("the underpants")
Who got in the Cabinet first!
- Tweeted senryu by @damdamj, retweeted by Senator Yamamoto Taro
Most of the time the push-off replies "No Comment" and "I will not dignify that question with an answer" are the politician's friends.
There are some questions, though, which a politician has to answer with a direct "Yes" or "No" and let the chips fall as they may.
This afternoon, newly minted Minister of Reconstruction Takagi Tsuyoshi, shown below seated beside the Prime Minister at today's 14th meeting of the Reconstruction Promotion Council (this is a just-released tweet from the Prime Minister's Residence) was confronted by one such question. Rather than surrender to the inevitable, he reached into the grab bag of push-off answers and let fly with one of the politer of the formulaic phrases:
「今日はそういった場所ではございませんので、お答えを控えさせていただく」 (Link - J)
"Today we are not at a place where we should be talking of such things so I should like to forego responding to your question at this time."
Minister Takagi Tsuyoshi
Unfortunately for Minister Takagi, the question being yelled at him at the Prime Minister's Residence was in regards certain allegations of misconduct of a rather peculiar kind. These allegations have been prominent in the headlines of the scandal sheets and the weekly magazines this week.
What was the question?
"Minister Takagi, it is true you were arrested 30 years ago for breaking into a young woman's home and stealing her underwear?"
Hope as one might, plead for delay as one might, there is no wiggle room here, so to speak.
This was really a "Yes" or "No" moment for Takagi.
Blew it he did.
By choosing to evade the question, he has instead opened the floodgates for what is a rising tide of ridicule.
Will the brand new minister's increasingly likely resignation damage the Abe administration? No, not significantly.
Will the resignation of a minister only 10 days after his installation increase pressure on Prime Minister Abe to reverse his present course and instead schedule an Extraordinary Diet Session for sometime in the last two months of this year? Possibly.
As for the above senryu it is a play on the words panchi ("punch") and pantsu ("underpants") which are separated by a single space in the table of the kana syllabary. "The Punch" referred to is the fist of Liberal Democratic Party Senator and former Ground Self Defense Forces Colonel Sato Masahisa in the face of Democratic Party of Japan Senator Konishi Yukihiro, a misleading image made infamous by The New York Times. (Link)
Colonel Sato, despite being one of the Prime Minister's favorite Senators and invaluable in the campaign to push (literally, in the final showdown) the security legislation through the House of Councillors, was not rewarded for his service with a cabinet post.