Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aso and Hatoyama: Itineraries Compared

I hating seeing people use insinuations to further their arguments, and I try to avoid doing so myself. However, some things just cry out for…

Today, the government made the announcement as required by law for the August 30 General Election of the House of Representatives. And to launch the formal start of the LDP election campaign, Asahi reports that Prime Minister Aso is giving speeches at:
10:55 Hachioji Station, North Exit (Tokyo)
12:45 Higashi-Murayama Station, East Exit (Tokyo)
15:15 Akabane Station, East Exit (Tokyo)
16:20 Seibu Nerima Station, North Gate (Tokyo)
If some of these names sound unfamiliar to you, do not feel embarrassed. Hachioji is a name that many Japanese hear only during the national high school baseball tournaments and the more studious among them vaguely recognize as former silk industry powerhouse. Higashi-Murayama’s national reputation rests with those old enough to remember “Higashi-Murayama Ondo” (click at your peril), a local booster song picked up and popularized in the 1970s by the mega-hit comedy group Dorifutaazu (Drifters) on their long-running TV variety show. Akababe and Nerima are closer to downtown Tokyo, but still carry, perhaps undeservedly, somewhat seedy, wrong-side-of-the-Yamanote Line overtones. Nerima’s claim to national fame lies in the Nerima Daikon, the big fat local version of the daikon radish that reputedly gave birth to the derogatory phrase daikon-ashi (google if you must). In other words, Aso is basically hitting the closest thing Tokyo has to the boondocks, from west to north, then calling it a day. (I’m mildly surprised that he isn’t hitting my home town, whose motto could be “XXXXXX, proudly on the wrong side of the Tama River.)

Compare this with the same-day itinerary of Yukio Hatoyama, the DPJ leader who is poised to take over Aso’s office in the event of a widely-anticipated opposition victory:
09:15 storefront; Takashimaya, Osaka Store (Osaka)
11:05 storefront; Hankyu, Shijo-Kawaramachi Store (Kyoto)
13:30 Toyohashi Station East Exit, pedestrian deck (Aichi)
14:55 Shizuoka, Aoba Event Square (Shiuzuoka)
16:45 Yokohama Station West Exit (Kanagawa)
18:35 Yotsuya Station, SunSun Plaza (Tokyo)
Not only is Hatoyama hitting six spots to Aso’s four, he’s doing it in six different prefectures, along a 2-hours-plus-by-non-stop-bullet-train route. Now I understand that a Prime Minister has other responsibilities, and Aso may yet add a couple of more speaking engagements before he pops back to his official residence to rest up for the rest of the campaign. All I know is that the famously fit Prime Minister’s health is last thing that could be holding him back from hitting more convenient and/or visible locations with more frequency.


Janne Morén said...

Aren't appearances decided in part based on the wishes of the member running in the district?

Perhaps not every LDP member is so keen on having Aso stop by and remind their voters about the Aso government and all.

Jun Okumura said...

You said it, Janne, not me...