Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

At least he didn't stuff it in his sock.

Sandy Berger may think he's in trouble, but not like former Japan Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto is in trouble. I read yesterday that Hashimoto might have personally accepted a check for 100 million yen, in 2001, from the Japan Dental Association. Lessee, tht's around $1 million in 2001 dollars, and approximately $1 million in 2004 dollars. Check my math. He is alleged to have looked at the check, after some fellow legislators also inspected it, then put it in an inside jacket pocket.

While I can't find a quote just now, I think I remember the article quoting him as saying that he couldn't have taken any such check, because he'd remember something like that clearly. Who wouldn't? (Of course, those Japanese politicians do sometimes drink a lot. Maybe his wife got an apologetic note back from the drycleaners later, about some scrap of notepaper that was no longer readable.)

Whatever. His word is good enough for me.

If it's not good enough for you, you can read the widening story.

I once met a journalist who'd scored some little scooplet by spotting Hashimoto when he was PM, running after him, asking him a question, and actually getting a coherent response. His fellow journalists were incredulous. "You're sure? Little guy? Pompadour?" Bear in mind, this is a PM who once gave a TV interview in a red leather suit. Who once had a mistress that, some claimed, was spying for the Chinese. Didn't hurt him a bit. Why, you'd think that Japanese voters believe that it hardly matters who is Prime Minister.

Those voters might be right.

I've heard it said that being a former Prime Minister is a much more coveted position in Japanese politics than actually being Prime Minister. That might explain why we only had about one per year until Koizumi. In the year Koizumi came along, the Ex-PM Club doors may well have been sealed shut. With A-bomb-shelter blast doors. So maybe Koizumi's stuck. He'll have to work at getting himself voted out. And why would he do that? He'll just be a nobody for the rest of his life.

Great hair, though.


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