Tuesday, October 09, 2007

If Anyone Can Prolong the Honeymoon with the Media, It's Prime Minister Fukuda

I did not make it up when I wrote that "[Mr. Fukuda] had charmed the entire Kantei press into longing for his triumphant return." In fact, a member of the Asahi board of editorial writers said it on Sunday Project. So I am not surprised to see that the Prime Minister's multiple political financing embarrassments are not causing him much trouble. Likewise, the financial irregularities in, for example, Environment Minister Kamoshita's books provided a few headlines, but nothing more. Think of it, if Mr. Fukuda had been an Abe clone, he would have been inundated with "more-of-the-same" invectives by now, and never mind the legal distinctions between the intentional and the negligent. Of course the media would be obliged to maintain balance with these and other Ozawa money stories (it could be just a coincidence that this story does not appear on the Asahi website), and it remains to be seen if they are just sick and tired of flogging this same horse over and over again.

In any case, Mr. Fukuda is liked - by the media and the public alike - and likeable, so this may be as good a time as any for the media, as they do here and here, to let the Japanese people know something that they've been aware of for a long, long time: that is, short of regime change, North Korea is not going to give Japan any more meaningful information on the abductees issue, let alone 1) let all abductees come home; 2) give a full, satisfactory accounting of the abductees issue (for example, how did they die, if they did), and 3) hand over the culprits; and have the Fukuda administration deal with the consequences.

Now imagine the embarrassment if the Abe administration had to deal with the revelation, and the only answer it had was that it had not heard such a thing directly from the North Koreans. Wouldn't the media be saying that Mr. Abe should ask Mr. Roh what Mr. Kim actually said? But I'll be mildly surprised if the mainstream media put that same question to Mr. Fukuda.

I found this while I was looking for my posts on the relationship between the media and Prime Ministers. I think that it has stood the test of time pretty well, including the time horizon for Mr. Abe.

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