Friday, January 25, 2013

That Aso Slip Of The Tongue

Okumura Jun wonders (Link) why I did not dance a jig over Finance Minister Aso Taro's "my brainstem does the talking" attempt to link dying with dignity and the cost of life-extending technologies. (Link)

There are a number of reasons.

First is I like Aso-san, a lot. He is by his own admission a simpleton, the worst student he ever met. While a holder of reactionary views, he is inconsistent, liking many things other reactionaries find corrupt and immoral. I admire and cherish his insouciance and his patriotism -- qualities so lacking in most of the fanatics whose company he keeps.

Second, Aso has competition. While he has earned most of the attention this week for both his "hurry up and die" comment and for losing his shirt in negotiations with Bank of Japan governor Shirakawa Masaaki (Link), economic revitalization minister Amari Akira is probably still ahead on points. From his wandering off message as regards the strength of the yen (Link) to his incredibly bizarre four strategic targets for Government of Japan economic policy (Link) Amari seems intent on embarrassing himself and his boss.

The Abe Cabinet and the Liberal Democratic Party leadership are full of ticking time bombs: the poverty-scarred Shimomura Hakubun at MEXT, policy research chief Takaichi Sanae (Link), National Public Security Commission head Furuya Keiji, Shindo Yoshitaka at MIC...

Jumping all over Aso for his well-intentioned gaffe will only numb audiences in advance of the waves of nonsense that will be issuing from the Friends of Shinzo over the coming days, weeks, months and years.

Which brings up the third reason why I let Aso's comment slide: there is so much that is substantively wrong in what Abe and Company want to do to Japan that to pick apart a gaffe is to be complicit in a diversion of attention. That Aso said what he said does not reveal a heretofore dark hidden agenda or mindset anymore than Yanagisawa Hakuo's baby-making machines metaphor did (Link). What we learned is that Aso cannot express a thought to save his life -- which we already knew.

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