Magazine article Newsweek International

A Recurring Political Farce

Magazine article Newsweek International

A Recurring Political Farce

Article excerpt

In the mood for a good political comedy? Come to Japan. Here you may glimpse the last act of a seven-month-long farce. It started with the sudden death of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. The only person at his deathbed was said to have been Mikio Aoki, then his chief cabinet secretary, who, after returning from the hospital, claimed to have heard Obuchi's last words before the Japanese leader slipped into a coma. Aoki called five heavyweights in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who decided among themselves that Yoshiro Mori would be Japan's next prime minister. It was a typical behind-the-curtain solution-- which satisfied the LDP but not the nation.

The second act was the rapid decline of Prime Minister Mori, a man not fit to be our leader in the first place. Even his fellow LDP members of Parliament say Mori was the last person they wanted to head the government. They call him by many unflattering names. Some say he is a man with a shark's brain (meaning very small) and a flea's heart (meaning no guts). Certainly, his mouth is too slippery to hold his tongue. He has made many improper remarks. For example, he called Japan a "divine nation," causing an uproar in foreign countries sensitive to the country's imperialist past. Subsequently, Mori's popularity rating plummeted from 40 percent to 15 percent.

Some of Mori's cabinet choices were not qualified for their posts. Two ministers have already been forced to resign--including former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hidenao Nakagawa. …

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