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British media on Abe and post-Abe September 15, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Politics.

Gen writes:

“This is just embarrassing:
British newspapers call for dynamic PM, slam Abe’s record

British newspapers were united Thursday in their calls for Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party to appoint a reforming and dynamic leader following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s abrupt resignation on Wednesday.

All agreed Abe’s performance had been poor on the domestic front but commended his rapprochement with China and South Korea.

The Times was particularly strong in its criticism of Abe. It claimed that following his party’s defeat in recent upper house elections, he brought back the Old Guard into the Cabinet. This showed Abe was still tied to the old system of factions and political dynasties which has held Japan back previously. It states the fact that Aso is seen as a favorite to succeed Abe shows that the LDP has not really changed.

Well, if they want someone to continue the apparent thaw with China, Fukuda is the man (although he does look a bit like an orang-utang. I do like his wry sense of humour, and he certainly has more depth than Abe, not that that is a challenge).

Given my recent conjecture regarding Koizumi’s growing influence, it should be mentioned that Koizumi and Fukuda have a long history, and despite the apparent distance between them in recent years, Koizumi did his political apprenticeship under Takeo Fukuda, Yasuo’s father, and it should be no surprise to see Koizumi endorse Fukuda this time around. (Note however, that Koizumi’s sidekick Iijima and Fukuda don’t get along, hence Iijima tendering his resignation to Koizumi apparently in protest at Koizumi’s support of Fukuda)

As for The Times’ insightful commentary regarding Abe’s ties to the old system…. Duh. It would have been surprising to see Abe, from a blueblood political dynasty, do any different, regardless of rhetoric about moving on from the post-war regime. The only thing Abe/LDP and Ozawa/DPJ share is a wish to move to a two party system. That would be great if the two parties reflected genuine choices….

Of course, neither Aso or Fukuda are likely to be any different on this matter, both of them again being hereditary politicians.

Aso and Abe are of course distant relatives (Aso’s aunt married the cousin of Abe’s grandfather and great-uncle). Abe’s grandfather was PM Kishi, whose brother Eisaku Sato was also PM. Aso’s father-in-law was PM Zenko Suzuki, and both ex-PM Kiichi Miyazawa (Aso and Miyazawa’s cousin both married PM Suzuki’s children) and ex-PM Ryutaro Hashimoto (whose wife’s grandfather was the brother of Abe’s paternal grandmother) are also connected. That makes it 6 prime ministers in that (very) extended family.

Lest it be forgotten, Aso’s youngest sister married into the Imperial Household and is now Princess Nobuko. Another interesting fact- Taro Aso is roman catholic, due to the influence of his grandmother (whose influence also led to Shigeru Yoshida converting just prior to his death – Yoshida had a roman catholic funeral as well as a state funeral along more traditional Japanese lines), and his younger sister went to a finishing school in Kent with roman catholic ties….

Anyway, a choice quote from the Guardian piece:

“[…] Japan also needs a leader who can straddle the world stage.

Mr Aso is unlikely to be such a man. His favourite subject is talking about manga comic books.”

Really? Aso, whilst certainly prone to foot in mouth disease, and apparently not a man of tact or subtlety, at least in public, he has been Foreign Minister and has more international exposure than most Japanese politicians. He has a decent command of English (at least good enough for reading speeches).

He spent time at both Stanford and the London School of Economics as a postgraduate. He never did finish his masters degree at either. It is reputed that he was forced by his maternal grandfather to quit Stanford and move to the UK. His grandfather apparently visited him when Taro was at Stanford, and was distraught that he was picking up an American accent Apparently his grandfather told his mother to tell Taro to move to the UK immediately. LOL.

So, having moved on to the LSE, he again was ordered back to Japan before he could finish his studies.

Aso recalls this series of events in a recent speech.

Aso’s maternal grandfather is ex-PM Shigeru Yoshida, of course.

If Koizumi’s tenuous connections to the University of London are such a big deal and qualifies him as some sort of globally minded politician, Aso actually studying at Stanford and LSE as a postgrad certainly qualifies him to at least the same degree.

Anyway, none of this matters, because it seems that Fukuda is a certainty for the top job, unless someone can find some juicy scandal before the 23rd.



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