Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Laughter's End

Looking over the shoulders of the other passengers on the airplane, I studied the bold headlines of the sports newspapers with deepening sadness.

What an infernal waste.

Former DPJ lawmaker Nagata kills self
The Yomiuri Shimbun

KITAKYUSHU--Hisayasu Nagata, a former Democratic Party of Japan member of the House of Representatives, committed suicide Saturday in Kitakyushu, police said.

According to the police, Nagata, 39, was found lying on the ground in a parking lot of an 11-story condominium by a resident at about 6:25 p.m.

A suicide note was discovered on a stairway between the 10th and 11th floors of the condominium and the police suspect that Nagata, who resigned from the Diet in 2006, killed himself by jumping from the building...
Japan's politics is in desperate need of clowns--of outrageous, droll morons whose tomfoolery makes the entire nation laugh.

Former Ministry of Finance bureaucrat Nagata Hisayasu was one of these blessed creatures, an irrepressible man-child the Democratic Party of Japan specially assigned to yaji (heckler) duties. In a January 2006 Diet Committee session, he became so bored at a Socialist member's speech that he tore the official printout in front of him into a square, then transformed the result into an origami crane - all in plain view of the Diet cameras.

Nagata's ultimate gesture of pyrotechnical wizardry was the immolation of Maehara Seiji's leadership of the Democratic Party of Japan. Nagata had received, from a journalist friend, a potential political bombshell: an email from Horie Takafumi, the then president of Livedoor, proposing to bribe Takebe Tsutomu, the then Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party, through a bank transfer to Takebe's second son. The obvious ridiculousness of the culprits collaborating to leave a record of their crime -- of sending a bribe via bank transfer -- did not impede Nagata's recklessly reading out the clearly bogus email in Diet session. Maehara Seiji's revisiting the email in his Budget Committee question-and-answer period a few days later, when the email's authenticity was openly doubted even in Democratic Party circles, counts as one of the most staggering feats of lower extremity marksmanship in Japanese political history.

Nagata's death is the third suicide in the last three years to stiffle the laughter surrounding a classic Diet clown. Last year in January the son of the buffoonish Nishimura Shingo leaped to his death from the high floors of a Diet residence. Two years ago, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Matsuoka Toshikatsu, the "some kind of special water device" accounting fraud laugh factory hanged himself in his own Diet room.

Former Minister of Finance Ibuki Bunmei is still cranking out the stunners--but his way-off-message improvisations always carry an acrid taste.

We need to laugh, not cry, in these times.

We need our clowns to dust themselves off, bow grandiosely and carry on, absurdly.

And such political and social magnanimity as to make it possible for them to do so.



Our Man in Abiko said...

Well said.

Added Entry said...

Again ... Well said.

We could all use a little laughter, and maybe a few origami cranes too.