Thursday, July 02, 2009

Heroic Bureaucrats And Their Trials

Oh please, TBS, I beg you, no. Oh well, it is too late now, I guess.

Starting this Sunday, the television drama series "Summer of the Elite Central Government Bureaucrats" (Kanryōtachi no natsu). The series teaser line:

"Otokotachi ga oimotometa no wa nihonjin no hokori o torimodosu koto"

"The quest for the men: for Japanese to recover a feeling of pride."
Set in the 1950s, the drama explores the conflicts and defeats and victories of elite career bureaucrats (kanryō) inside the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) as they seek to lead a revival of Japan's industrial prowess.

In the right hands, and if the script stayed faithful to what actually happened -- the good, the bad and the dumb -- the drama might be fascinating.

Yet for some odd reason, I fear that the drama will forego portraying the subtle yet vicious power plays and gross tedium of the lives of these men (and they were all men back then) in favor of a lot of set pieces of preternaturally handsome, unsweaty men shouting out soliloquies in strangely lit interiors.

Back in the world of today, life could not be less appealing for the elite corps of the central government bureaucracy.

In a Tokyo Shimbun opinion poll published last month, members of the public were asked to offer their opinion on "How much do you trust_____?" with various types of persons inserted in the blank.

When the word in the blank space was "politicians" 76% of the respondents answered either "Not Much" or "Not At All."

When the word was kanryō, the percentage of those saying that they trust them either "Not Much" or "Not At All" was 78%.

Worse than Japan's politicians.

Think about it.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court confirmed former Ministry of Foreign Affairs bureaucrat Satō Masaru's 2003 breach of trust conviction for his under-the-table funding of projects in the Russian-controlled Northern Territories together with disgraced Diet member Suzuki Muneo. Satō argued he cannot be convicted of conducting clandestine activities in support of Japan's foreign policy goals if clandestine activities were part of his remit (Satō was a senior analyst in the Intelligence and Analysis Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time).

The Supreme Court yesterday told him he can...and has been.

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