Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Lack Of Self-Esteem Has Never Been His Problem

This is my world
And I am
World Leader Pretend
This is my life
And this is my time
I have been given
The freedom
To do as I see fit...

- REM, "World Leader Pretend" (1992)

You and I, given the chance to make a difference, would not self-indulgently name a political party after our first commercial success.

You and I are not Ishihara Shintaro.

Today, Ishihara unveiled his brilliant idea for the name of the party he is borrowing from Hiranuma Takeo: Taiyo no To, the Party Of The Sun. (Link)

There is cleverness -- of an old-man-tell-joke flavor. Hiranuma called his party for superannuated geriatrics Tachiagare Nippon -- "Stand Up Japan!" -- which gave wags a thousands gag lines of the sort, "Yes, for the members of this party, that would be an achievement." Rather than suffer the slings and arrows of English language speakers making fun of the party name (that ship has sailed, my friend) Hiranuma chose "Sunrise Party" as Tachiagare Nippon's official English moniker.

Of course Hiranuma, a revisionist history buff and adopted sun son of executed Class A War Criminal Hiranuma Kiichiro, is not making any reference to Amaterasu Omikami, whom one reviewer notes I call upon in my moments of frustration, for that would be a gross appropriation of the Imperial Family's official divine ancestor.

Ishihara could have , of course, just translated Hiranuma's choice of an English name back into Japanese, the result being Hinode no To. In what would have been an auspicious coincidence, the Crown Prince walked down from the Mitakesan summit to the top of Mt. Hinode today.* (Link)

Ishihara could have just called the new party Taiyo To (The Sun Party) -- except, of course, that Taiyo To was the name of Hata Tsutomu's short-lived breakaway from the Shinshinto, Ozawa Ichiro's greatest feat of opportunistic political grafting.

Besides, when there is an opportunity for gratuitous self-promotion -- or any self-promotion at all -- Ishihara Shintaro is there. Taiyo no To echoes Taiyo no kisetsu (Season of the Sun) -- Ishihara's first published novel, set in the author's home town of Zushi (Kanagawa Prefecture). Below is a photo of the monument in the book's honor on the beach at Zushi. The location is, as the inscription on the monument explains, the backdrop of the book's opening scene.

Yes, the calligraphy on the monument is Ishihara's. No, I don't think he paid for the monument's erection.

The self-referential act would have attained apotheosis if the symbol of the new party were the sun found on the monument. Luckily, the party sun image on the podium today was a cheery smiling sun rather than the monument's glaring one.

Later - Commenter Fernando points out that there is another "Taiyo no To." Following that thread takes one on a journey that still ends up on the beach at Zushi.


* The Asahi Shimbun reports that today's hike was the Crown Prince's first visit to Mitakesan in 35 years -- which for an avid hiker living in the Tokyo Metropolitan District is a minor miracle -- Mitakesan being the default summit of the Okutama Region.

Photo credit: MTC


Fernando said...

Most people are going to think of Taro Okamoto's 太陽の塔, which Google defaults to when you do a searcg for Ishihara's new party. I'm thinking the website launch is going to be woefully slow, as it was for People's Lives First.

MTC said...

Fernando -

In the Kansai, most certainly. Probably not in the Kanto. While the Osaka Expo is a favorite symbol of the era of Japan's reemergence as a leading nation, it is see in Tokyo and the Kanto Plain as a step down from the 1964 Olympics.

Not that the Kanto does not love Okamoto Taro, having two museums of his work (in Tokyo and in Kanagawa) and his massive "Myth of Tomorrow" installed in Shibuya Station (where fluctuations in humidity and temperature and airborne particles are going to ruin it).

Of course, everything is connected. The sun on the Taiyo no Kisetsu monument in Zushi is a replica of Taro Okamoto's 1969 work Young Sun (Wakai Taiyo).

Here is the URL of the page on Ishihara's website on the monument's unveiling in 2006: http://www.i-shintaro.com/c2/c2-6/