Japan from the inside out

Bad penny

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, April 19, 2012

HAVING the proverbial bad penny turn up is already inauspicious, but when the bad penny in circulation is the founder of the ruling political party and a disaster as its first prime minister, the current prime minister’s government has a 20% rate of support and sinking in the latest Asahi Shimbun poll, and the party itself could disintegrate after the next election, if not before, there aren’t enough synonyms for headache to describe the reaction.

I come in peace, Earthlings!

Yes, Hatoyama Yukio, the Loopster himself, is back in the news, and perhaps the only person in Japan who’s happy about it is his mother. His wife can’t be that oblivious to her surroundings.

Then again, the DPJ has only itself to blame for its bad fortune. It was their bright idea to give him the title of supreme advisor for international affairs. Perhaps they hoped he would consider it a substitute for a gold watch as a keepsake for founding the party with his mother’s illegally contributed money. It would also give him an excuse to sit at the head table at banquets and seminars that no one of consequence attended or took seriously, thus keeping him out of everyone else’s way.

As with all of the party’s other bright ideas, that one didn’t work either.

The United States, Europe, and Israel are at sixes and sevens trying to find a way to deal with, or find a plausible excuse to avoid dealing with, Iran and its nuclear program. That country, which has the world’s third-highest total of oil reserves, is currently the subject of four different UN resolutions for its refusal to stop enriching uranium. The Iranians claim they are only working to develop nuclear energy capabilities, and not even Hatoyama Yukio believes them.

Multilateral negotiations with the country ended in disarray a year ago, but resumed this month and will continue again next month. Japan hasn’t taken a prominent role in these negotiations, but has been working behind the scenes with the EU and the U.S. to apply pressure on the Iranians to cease and desist.

That’s when Mr. Hatoyama decided he could help by having a face-to-face meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and persuade him that the path of unicorns, sunbeams, and strawberry alarm clocks was preferable to apocalyptic visions of the 12th imam and the destruction of the Zionist entity.

In other words, it would be the Loopy Summit.

This was the reaction to the news in Japan:

The government did its darndest to keep him from getting on the plane for a four-day visit that started on the 6th. The Foreign Ministry’s talking mannequin Foreign Minister Gemba Koichiro implored him to at least postpone the trip, but Mr. Hatoyama wouldn’t hear of it. He said the arrangements had already been made, and added:

“This country will not endure if the government alone is capable of conducting diplomacy. I will say what should be said to Iran as a friend, and work to ensure that they do not take any military action.”

You didn’t think I was joking about facepalms, did you?

The meeting went ahead as scheduled. Mr. Hatoyama got his photo op sitting in a chair next to the Iranian president, with an interpreter between and the national flags of the two countries in the background. You know, just like all the real playas in international diplomacy. He thought everything went swimmingly. So did the Iranians. Their news agency quoted him as saying:

“It is unfair of the IAEA to apply double standards (to Iran).”

While everyone in the Japanese government and media did a double facepalm, Mr. Hatoyama registered an objection at the Iranian embassy in Tokyo and asked the Iranian government to remove that statement from their website. He insisted that he asked the Iranians to cooperate with the IAEA and added:

“The article is a complete fabrication. This is very regrettable. I am going to tell them that I didn’t say that…Japan has worked to dispel the skepticism of the international community.”

Lamented Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura Osamu:

“We kept telling him it wasn’t a good idea to go now, even unofficially as an individual.”

Trying to limit the damage, DPJ Policy Affairs Chief Maehara Seiji said:

“This doesn’t have anything to do with the party.”

Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko was close to being at a loss for words:

“I want to believe Mr. Hatoyama. But…well, it is what it is.”

Across the aisle in the opposition ranks, New Komeito head Yamaguchi Natsuo thought it was “extremely regrettable”. The LDP wants him to testify in the Diet and answer to the charge of harming the national interest. But El Loopo disagrees:

“I’m glad I went….I strongly stated my position that I wanted to create a world without nuclear weapons, and President Ahmadinejad listened carefully. My message was conveyed to him.”

That wasn’t the only message conveyed to him. Everyone tried to pin down exactly what he told the Iranian president, and Mr. Hatoyama finally admitted that he did say this:

“It is a fact that countries already with nuclear weapons have an advantage under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and in a real sense that is perhaps unfair.”

In other words, the Iranians are guilty only of rephrasing instead of lying.

If you think it can’t get any worse, you’re forgetting that this is the Loopmeister we’re talking about.

This Monday, Mr. Hatoyama announced that he wants to return to Tehran for another conference.

“I do not think I was trusted by making just one visit…What can a person who has been a prime minister do? I want to continue to make some sort of effort in the future”.

Here’s the definition of working at cross purposes: Hatoyama Yukio is trying to remind everyone that he is important because he was prime minister, and the rest of Japan is trying to forget it ever happened.

Nope nope nope. We’re not finished yet. His Royal Loopiness met Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian national authority, in a Tokyo hotel last week — I see that facepalm! — and said after the meeting:

“I’ve been asked to go to Palestine, so I hope I have the chance to visit as soon as possible. I support self-determination for all people.”

People are now finding the determination to remove the right of self-determination from Mr. Hatoyama for his overseas junkets. Last week, he attended a DPJ meeting in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, a city in the district he represents in the Diet. Polls have been showing for two years there’s a good chance he’ll lose his seat in the next lower house election — that requires no explanation — and even the people who have supported him in the past are unhappy with his decision to unretire a few months after he said he would retire when his term ends. Added another supporter:

“I think it would be best if he showed some restraint with his feeling of being a former prime minister. It’s more important that he come here than go to Iran.”

Remember: It was on the Monday after this weekend meeting that he said he thought he should have another tete-a-tete with Mr. Ahmadinejad.

The local branch of the LDP is already at work recruiting a potential challenger. They’ve asked Horii Manabu to consider running in the next election. Mr. Horii won an Olympic bronze medal in speed skating in 1994 and is now in his second term in the Hokkaido prefectural assembly. In addition to his name recognition and experience in local government, Mr. Horii is a native of the area, which Mr. Hatoyama is not.

But even if Mr. Horii decides to run (it looks like he might) and wins, that won’t get rid of the bad penny. Under Japan’s proportional representation system, Mr. Hatoyama can get himself placed at the top of the list for generic party voting and be returned to the Diet even if he loses.

Yes, the politicians in Japan have created a system that prevents the voters from throwing the bums out even when they vote to throw the bums out. Not even the Democrats in America have come up with a plan that brilliant.

It cannot be dismissed out of hand that Mr. Hatoyama’s brain is so vacuum-packed and shrink-wrapped that he is unaware of the problems he’s causing. As I’ve written before, he was the first junior high school girl to serve as the prime minister of Japan. Another possibility is that he is following the example of former American President Jimmy Carter and promoting himself for the Nobel Peace Prize, AKA the Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Democrats. There’s one significant difference, however. Mr. Carter is a spiteful, malevolent, and obnoxiously self-important little man.

Hatoyama Yukio is just plain loopy.


The Asahi Shimbun also noticed the Carter-Hatoyama similarities. The primary difference between the two men in their opinion is that Mr. Carter is “realistic”.

But then the Asahi is to newspapers what Hatoyama Yukio is to politics and governance.

Here’s one possible explanation for his behavior:

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One Response to “Bad penny”

  1. toadold said

    The sad thing about Jimmy Carter’s unsanctioned diplomacy to N. Korea during the Clinton era was that quite a few people wanted him prosecuted under the Logan Act. It makes unsanctioned diplomacy a felony and provides up to three years in prison plus fines. However because he belonged to the right party neither he, Nancy Pelosi, and several other Democrats have ever been prosecuted under the act. So even if Hayatomo was not longer in office it still might not have been possible to keep him from pooping in the breakfast cereal.

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