Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chez Ibuki Bunmei's Maison de Disastrous Similes

I attended Deputy Parliamentary Affairs Chaiman Kosaka Kenji's Tokyo fundraising party last evening at the Hotel New Otani.

Quite the eye-opener.

The split majorities of the Houses of the Diet have transformed the offices of the Parliamentary Affairs Chairman and his immediate subordinate. Once more of a ruffled feathers smoother position, the kokutai iincho dairi is now a linchpin of political wheeling and dealing. The character, interests and talents of a deputy parliamentary affairs chairman are now crucial to the passage of legislation through the Diet.

Not surprisingly, the speaker's list at this year's fundraiser was an order of magnitude more powerful than last year's.

Six sitting Cabinet ministers, both of the ruling coalition's kokutai iinchō, Komeitō leader Ōta Akihiro, LDP Secretary-General Ibuki Bunmei--not to mention Ichikawa Danjūrō XII--all took turns at the microphone.

A plenitude of posting's worth of material, some of which I hope to share soon.

However, the highlight of the evening was Ibuki Bunmei's catastrophic attempt to describe, in concrete and simple terms, so that we morons might understand, what he and Kosaka-san do every day.

I do not have a tape or transcript, but it went something like this:

"Prime Minister Fukuda is like the proprietor of a great eating establishment. It is his place; it has his name on it. I come out of the kitchen with a tray, that's all I do is carry the tray, that has all these tasty bits of legislation on it."
Incredibly Ibuki held his arms out in front of him, as if he were holding a real tray.

He continued his explanation:

"But you have to know that behind the door, in the kitchen, someone is cooking up these tasty bits of legislation, these things on the tray. That is the job of the cook, Oshima Tadamori-sensei, who spoke earlier, the Parliamentary Affairs Chairman.

If Oshima-san does not do a good job, then the legislation is not tasty and it reflects badly on the reputation of the proprietor, Fukuda-san.

And Kosaka-sensei here..."
Ibuki's voice trailed off. He suddenly realized that he was about to relegate the evening's host to the rank of sous-chef at a fancy restaurant.

Caught in a corner of his own devising, Ibuki followed the course of greater valor and...pretended he had finished his thought. Unfortunately, this only liberated him to go veering off in an even more embarrassing direction:

"...anyway we have these great people here, making great efforts and capable of making tasty things...and then, what we get from the Democratic Party is all these lousy ingredients..."
At which point he hunched over. With a pincer gesture he brought his index finger and thumb together, as if he were manipulating a pair of chopsticks. He picked away at an imaginary dish on his imaginary tray. At the same time he pursed up his face in an awful way, as if he had just inhaled a slice of lemon.

Ibuki's narration again ground to a halt. Realizing that vaudeville rakugo pantomime was possibly below the dignity of the Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party, he chucked the restaurant concept, straightened up his spine and started all over again:

"Uuhhh...Of course, we have serious problems that must be faced...the passage of the law approving the redispatch of the MSDF refueling mission...the fallout from the sub-prime loan mess..."

Ah Ibuki-san! To see your unguarded and unvarnished self! Thank you. No really, thank you.

Now I know...should I ever want to get your undivided attention, all I have to do is shout:


1 comment:

Christopher said...

This is fantastic and illuminating. It raises the question of how do these guys get where they are? Which suggests the answer that the talent, skill or ingenuity they employed to get where they are is not related to the talent, skill and ingenuity required for the position.