Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dead Horse Kicking

Dear Secretary Clinton:

You love this blessed land so much you are going to make it the first stop on your first excursion as Secretary of State.

We have official assurances of this.

Though I may be getting a bit ahead of myself in sending you this little memo, I felt it not out of place to toss you a very brief warning in advance of what I am sure is going to be an avalanche of complete and total nonsense, some of it criminally obtuse advice on what to concentrate on while you are here.

In short, one would have to look the recent historical record over once, twice, thrice to find a worse week for a prime minister of Japan.

- In front of the Liberal Democratic Party leadership council Prime Minister Asō Tarō muttered that he would not be participating in the cash handout plan, the government project that had cost his party dearly in terms of political support. When reports of this boneheaded utterance appeared in the press, the PM, before the members of the Diet denied he had ever said such a thing...which meant that, according to the PM, members of the LDP leadership council are liars.

Calling your fellow party leaders liars -- not the best way to maintain one's support within the party, would you not agree?

- A leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, during Diet committee interpellations, called the Prime Minister a cheat and a thief-- and the committee chair, a member of the PM's own party, gave the legislator only a verbal warning.

- Again in the Diet, the PM called into question the privatization of the Post Office, asking whether or not the break up plan was really feasible--casting away the last tenuous line to Koizumi Jun'ichirō, whose audacious call for a House of Representative election in August 2005 after a House of Councillors rejection of his plan for postal privatization plan led to the greatest LDP majority in over 25 years...which sort of sparked a frenzy among LDP members of the House of Representatives who would rather not be associated with a prime minister who thinks the people made a mistake back in 2005.

- Speaking of The Celebrated Mr. K, a Yomiuri Shimbun/ Waseda University poll found that three years and three prime ministers later, the Lionheart is still running away with the title of "Who would be the most appropriate person to be prime minister right now?"

Which means, as anyone in Nagata-chō could tell you, "reform is dead."

Yes, Secretary Clinton, that was sarcasm.

- Meanwhile, out in the economy...

[one would hardly know from what is being debated within the ruling coalition that Japan indeed has such a thing]

... this week saw the best-regarded companies laying off permanent workers (a no-no around here) and being pummeled by heretofore unprecendented bad news (here and here and here and, oh well, why not this too) . ..leading some legislators to propose that the government out "Bernanke" Fed Governor Ben Bernanke.

Which is another way of saying, "We have reached the stupidity event horizon."

So if at a reception you are asked to crack the ceremonial sake cask, please give it your most vigorous, most "Japan valueing" blow. Then raise your little wooden box, wish your hosts the very best, tell then how much this meeting means to you and, immediately, forget all their faces.

You will likely not be meeting any of them ever again.



1 comment:

Added Entry said...

Personally, I am looking forward to seeing the Clinton reception photos. When Secretary Rice visited Japan, the political line up in the photos looked almost like grinning school boys basking in her glowing presence. The word giddy nearly comes to mind. Not the usual staid foreign office photo ops shots.

So many people, so little time. She may truly appreciate your recommendation to not worry about remembering all their names.