This is a reproduction of the substance of a comment I posted here, which I learned of by way of this. (I originally tracked the Mutant Frog link down because I couldn't believe anybody was following the Japanese equivalent of C-Span. It seems to be a good blog.)
I've worked with Mr. Omi on a couple of occasions. He, like most people, has some strong points, as well as some weaknesses. As far as his English goes, he understands much and sometimes even most of what you can throw at him in English, as long as you avoid the colloquial and speak clearly and correctly. He can also express himself in English, as long as the audience is willing to tolerate what will at times be slow and idiosyncratic. He definitely needs and uses an interpreter for some of his more complicated thoughts. I know what Mr. Paulsen said, but are you going to take the word of Mr. Omi's political counterpart and born salesman, or mine?
Mr. Omi is also a headstrong, yes, willful man. Believe me, he can be difficult, even frustrating, to work with. But he has a weakness that you can exploit. He has a weakness for women. You see, Mr. Omi reportedly worships his mother, and is clearly devoted to his wife as well as his daughter and only child. This weakness seems to extend to his relationship with other women who have shown the ability to keep him under control by way of their what I can only call motherly instincts. Apparently, he finds tough-minded, intelligent women with a practical bent, literally, irresistible.
So, what Mr. Omi needs at his side when he goes abroad is a smart, strong-willed woman who keeps him grounded and fills in when his not-so-perfect English fails him. Unfortunately, there aren't many people, certainly no run-of-the-mill interpreters, who fit this bill and can be had for the price of a few meals and receptions. Besides, interpreters and their airline tickets and accommodations do not come cheap. So Mr. Omi did a great favor to the Japanese government when he took his daughter along on that trip at mostly his own expense.
Yes, Mr. Omi, if he had been more careful, could have asked for a separate bill for his daughter's meals, though it would have been very difficult to do that for the receptions. (How do you determine the cost allocable to an attendee at a reception?)
Of course, there must be reasons why this trivial matter was revealed and became an issue. My guess is, the bureaucracy is dissatisfied with the Okinawa graduate school he is pushing, as well as the way he is pushing it. (Although Okinawa and science and technology are his two great professional passions, the school seems to be running into political and practical difficulties, some of it predictable. And I told you he could be frustrating.) Moreover, his intentions may not be as pure as you would like. He has been grooming his daughter to take over the family business (he is 74 now, and pushed her unsuccessful candidacy for an Upper House seat in 2004), and he surely wants to give his daughter as much exposure as possible. But he certainly did it on the cheap from the government's point of view..
(caveat: Koji Omi is an ex-METI Guy, like me.)