Japan from the inside out

Former Japanese PM hanging out in alleys

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, August 17, 2008

WHILE THE EYES of the sporting world were riveted on the Summer Olympics in Beijing, one competition of interest that escaped public attention was held in a Tokyo hotel on the 14th.

That was a match between an 11-person team from the Dietmen’s League for the Promotion of Bowling, consisting of members of the Liberal Democratic Party and chaired by former party Secretary-General Takebe Tsutomu, and a 10-person team consisting of members of the print media.

The main attraction for those bowling fans and political groupies who did show up was the LDP team captain: former Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichiro. Wouldn’t you know it? Mr. Koizumi rolled a strike on his first ball.

Unfortunately for his team, Mr. Koizumi’s bowling skills are not up to the level of his political acumen. In a match the day before against a team consisting of television broadcasters, he rolled a score of 149. And even though he started off the game against the ink-stained wretches with a strike, he managed a score of only 116.

But give the guy credit. He doesn’t seem to have embarrassed himself, he doesn’t look bad in the photo, and try as I might, I can’t picture any other recent Japanese prime minister–or opposition leader Ozawa Ichrio, for that matter–going out for a friendly game of tenpins.

And is it just my imagination, or is there no other legislative body in the world whose members create such a large number of informal associations, committees, clubs, and other groupings as the Japanese Diet?

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