Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tarō Francisco Aso's Sudden Fall From Heaven

Which St. Francis is Aso Tarō named after?

For most Catholics one would guess St. Francis of Assisi. For a Japanese Catholic, especially one with his roots in Kyūshū, the smart money would have to be on St. Francis Xavier.

Courtesy: Kobe City Museum

Either way, Francisco blew it last week by failing to show de Assisi's compassion or Xavier's smarts. According to the feisty folks at the Chuō Nippō, Aso did himself in by awakening the vengeance of the Machimura faction.

Knowing that the Mori-Machimura Faction had provided the last three Prime Ministers and most likely feeling serious shame at the sudden bizarre behavior of the faction's young champion, Foreign Minister Machimura Nobutaka really had no plans of supporting yet another faction member as a candidate to replace Abe Shinzō.

It seems, however, that one of the last comprehensible sentences the distraught and agonized Abe was able to blurt out on Wednesday night was:

"Aso tricked me. After the reshuffle of the Cabinet, I lost all my rights over control of personnel."

Well, everyone knew that. Abe was a cardboard cutout after the Endō takedown. So no surprises there.

But Aso's cocky, smiling attitude on Wednesday night and his impossible-to-believe-revelation that a wounded Abe had expressed a wish to step down to him in private on Sunday blew Machimura's stack (as well as pretty much all the stacks of the party veterans). Fukuda, the polar opposite in terms of policy positions and style to the bullrushing Aso, became the faction's and the LDP crowd of the disaffected's incongruous fresh face.

The only possible problem was the reaction of Koizumi Jun'ichiro and the Koizumi Kiddy Korps in both Houses of the Diet to a possible Fukuda candidacy. Without Koizumi's say-so, the plan to draft Fukuda would pit the party's elders against its youth wing--a badly divided bunch already.

Both Fukuda and Koizumi have reason to dislike one another: Koizumi for Fukuda's abetting of the sniping war between Foreign Minister Tanaka Makiko and the bureaucrats under her that seriously tripped up the Koizumi program in 2002-3, Fukuda for Koizumi's torpedoing of Fukuda's run for the prime ministership in mid-2006.

Nevertheless, it was Fukuda Yasuo's father Takeo who had rescued Koizumi from oblivion by making Koizumi his political secretary after the young returnee failed to win his family's Diet seat. With such a bond of obligation in the background, it was not likely the bad blood between the two men could support Koizumi's opposing Fukuda's running--especially after the spectacular implosion of Koizumi's handpicked successor.

Like brothers they must be in certain ways--rivals who get on each other's nerves, picking unnecessary fights with one another, but ready to stand up for the other when the conditions demand unity...

...that and the fact that among the other dumb stuff Aso did was to say, "The LDP that was destroyed by Koizumi I will rebuild."

Mr. K took umbrage at that little dig it seems... and gave his full-throated approval to Fukuda's challenge.

In terms of the LDP votes in Nagata-chō, Francisco is well into de profundis clamavi ad te Domine territory.

But out in the uncivilized ... hinterlands...


Anonymous said...

And I know you recall how poor St Francis Xavier died--alone, abandoned, without a final prayer on a Pacific Isle.

Christopher said...

First, a request. Does anyone have a link to a video of Abe's resignation speech? I'd like to see it out of morbid curiousity.

Next, sharing my feeling of deja vu. One morning last week I turned on the TV and there was a puff piece on Fukuda. What I learned from this was ...

He's funny, really! During a car ride interview with a reporter he grabbed her handy cam and turned it on her to happy squeals and laughs. Schwing! Thanks Fuku, she's a babe!

He's a sportsman! Did you know that he is the chairman of the Japan Canoe (kayak?!) association? All the speculators who ran out and bought shares in comic companies should now stampede into buying shares in ... are there any Japanese kayak builders that are publicly listed?

There were other things I learned that I can't remember.

The last time I saw such advertorial was when Abe was being introduced to the public. Ouch!

By the way, on a different note another great picture for your banner. You've gone from American / Nipponese Gothic (the old couple were dead ringers) to something Turneresque. The sky, the clouds, the immense sea, the tiny freighter, is it before or after a storm?

MTC said...

Christopher -

Neither before nor after--just a brilliant, hot sunny day (August 12, 2007) with picturesque cumulus clouds hanging over the Pacific off of Cape Hachiman, Katsu'ura City.

Yes, Fukuda Yasuo has his moments...if he can just keep them to himself until after he wins the party presidential election. His crack about feeling as though he drew the short straw was really unwise.