AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Yes, it can be helped

Posted by ampontan on Friday, October 7, 2011

DURING a news conference on Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Yamaguchi Tsuyoshi said the following about Foreign Minister Gemba Koichiro’s visit to South Korea.

We really wanted him to visit China, but it was the National Day (national founding day) holiday period, so it couldn’t be helped. We had him go to South Korea instead.

Is not the lack of self-awareness among the political class a perpetual astonishment? Does the Diet member/deputy foreign minister not realize how stupid — and undiplomatic — he sounds? Prime Minister Noda is scheduled to visit South Korea himself on 18 October. Has it occurred to Mr. Yamaguchi what the South Koreans might think after hearing that the Japanese government sees them as an option that couldn’t be helped when they needed an excuse to air out the Boy Foreign Minister for a few days?

Ah, but Mr. Yamaguchi is no mere politico. He started his career in the foreign ministry as a diplomat after being graduated from the University of Tokyo Law Department — the ultimate career track for the Japanese elite. He was later convinced to run for the Diet by Ozawa Ichiro. He launched a study group for Diet members called Japan’s Grand Design. He also holds a doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University (most likely the School of Advanced International Studies).

Yet after all the time, money, and effort devoted to acquiring those credentials, he still lacks the common sense of the average gas station attendant or convenience store clerk.

It can’t be helped? Yes, it can be helped. If there’s no pressing need for a foreign minister still in training wheels to travel abroad, keep him harmless and at home. If someone knows less about interpersonal relations than the average housewife and her next-door neighbor, he doesn’t belong in the Cabinet, much less the Foreign Ministry.

William F. Buckley once said that he would rather be governed by the the first 500 people selected at random from the Boston telephone directory than by the graduates of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

That works just as well in Japan as it does in the United States. Unfortunately, the dessicated intellects bearing framed ribboned script who govern both countries don’t work so well at all.

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