Tuesday, October 04, 2011

More Chess Moves

Cut your losses. If you must lose material, lose as little as possible.

-Bruce Pandolfini, "The Ten Commandments of Chess"

So Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko visited the site of the disputed Asaka government housing complex.

For 15 minutes.

Based on this extensive review of the project which he had greenlighted after it was cancelled by the Government Revitalization Unit, he returned to Tokyo and called Finance Minister Azumi Jun into his office, this in order to command Azumi to suspend further construction activity at the site for five years (en).

One has to admit that this prime minister, even when he is forced by circumstances to reverse himself, does not forget to dot his i’s and cross his t’s, unlike his predecessor Kan Naoto, who did a lot of his policy making on the fly, upsetting the powers that be.

One also needs pay attention to how quickly and coldly this prime minister deals with every problem he faces. Ignore the charming self-deprecation and the common touch he can summon seemingly without the least effort: the man is all business. Sentimentality is a tool to win over his audience -- or at times just a single individual -- to be deployed, not felt.

Which is not to say that Noda is insensitive. Indeed, quite the opposite: one has to be acutely sensitive of another person’s or group’s wants and needs before one can beguile them with words that move and/or influence. And he makes the concessions necessary to seal the deals.

When I first considered Noda as prime minister, I figured that he would be put through the wringer just as his five immediate predecessors have been, leaving behind a desiccated husk after only a year in office. Now I am more inclined to see him as surviving the Democratic Party of Japan’s leadership contest next September and leading his party into the next House of Representatives election

Behind that roly-poly jiggle of jolly jelly is one tough customer.


Joe said...

I've been in Japan long enough to know better, but I still feel cynically amused that being Prime Minister doesn't necessarily mean you are one of the "powers that be."
Naive, I know.

MTC said...

Joe -

Thank you for the insightful and merry observation. You are right, it is indeed pretty amusing.

If my memory is not completely twisted out of shape, there used to be a story of a karaoke party among the bigwigs of the LDP during the time of the Miyazawa Cabinet. Miyazawa was in conversation across the room when suddenly a call came out from Kanemaru Shin, "Miyazawa-kun, get up and sing someting for us." To which Miyazawa had to dutifully comply.