* Political Trivia Alert
The wonderful people toiling away on the Japanese-language Wikipedia website have come up with a comprehensive list of Japanese parliamentary groups, mostly non-partisan, that Diet members belong to. The list is by no means complete—for one, it fails to include the U.S.-Japan Parliamentary Friendship League—but it has managed to track down 238 of them. That’s almost one for every three Diet members.
The non-partisan Pekin Orinpikku wo Shiensuru Kai, or Group of Diet Members Who Support the Beijing Olympics, should have a very short shelf-life. But while it remains in existence, it boasts an impressive list of members, with Prime Minister himself as chairman. In fact, almost all the A-list politicians seem to be there, including Taro Aso of Arc of Freedom and Prosperity renown. But Shinzo Abe is conspicuous by his absence, particularly since all the other ex-Prime Ministers, including Jiang Zeming nemesis Junichiro Koizumi, are top-listed as “advisors”*. Also missing is Shoichi Nakagawa. And Takeo Hiranuma.
While we are on the trails of the right-wing nationalists, let’s take a look at the Minna de Yasukuni Jinja ni Sanpaisuru Kai, or Group of Diet Members Who Go Together to Yasukuni Shrine to Pay Respects. The Yasukuni caucus is somewhat less inclusive than the Beijing boosters, since the Communist and Socialist Parties have chosen to sit this one out. Instead, it boasts an impressive array of notable right-wing politicians such as Takeo Fukuda, Taku Yamazaki, Makoto Koga, and Sadakazu Tanigaki.
Each one of these parliamentary groups—even the Supirichuaru Giin Renmei,or Spiritual Parliamentary Group, likely more Deepak Chopra/Sylvia Brown than Mahatma Gandhi—must have its uses. Still, I cannot help but wonder if some are more equal than others, which leads me to ask myself, Which one of these would I join if I had to join one, and only one? And as my eyes finish scanning the list, the decision is a no-brainer—the Chiariidingu Suishin Giin Renmei, or Cheerleading Promotion Parliamentary League (sorry, no separate Wikipedia entry on this one), wins; it isn’t even close.
* One ex-Prime Minister, Yasuhiro Nakasono, is not a member, since he was forced into retirement under LDP rules by Mr. Koizumi.