Sunday, September 05, 2010

The DPJ Leadership Election: Ozawa’s Charm Offensive Only Skin Deep

The other Ichiro is opening himself up to the media or what? He’s been flashing his million yen smile through most of the obligatory photo-ops as well as the open-air, shades-of-Lincoln-Douglas, head-to-heads against Kan. Which only reminds me of his boast in a fairly recent book of his that he campaigned like hell when he ran successfully for the Iwate lower house seat that had been held by his father until his untimely death but never had to personally campaign in subsequent elections. Here’s definitely a guy who wouldn’t be kissing babies and eating rubber chickens if he could help it.

But how about his direct dealings with the media? According to the headline for this Yomiuri report: “Regular Press Conferences If I Become Prime Minister,” he’s willing to make himself accessible—not. Here again, the new Ozawa is really the old Ozawa. In the text, he is quoted, “I think it would be better to do regular press conferences, rather than those ‘cling-ons.’ The prime minister should do press conferences as often as possible, once a month or twice a month.” Longtime followers of the Japanese political scene will remember that Prime Minister Abe tried to cut back the customary twice-each-weekday, cling-on sound-bite briefings to one a day and caught hell from the mainstream media. And you wonder why Ozawa gets such bad press.


Janne Morén said...

I'm as willing to beat up Ozawa as anyone - as Prime minister he'd be a disaster for the DPJ, though it may lead to a speedier political realignment.

But I'm really not sure the constant buttonholing of the Prime minister in search of anything quotable actually adds to the transparency of government (though I'm sure it helps fill those column inches). I know I wouldn't have a hope of coming up with a worthwhile comment about my work twice a day, every day; I'd probably start commenting on my bowel movements before the first month is up.

A weekly press meeting - open, not just press club people - seems to me a decent way to do it. That's often enough to cover current events, but with enough time for the guy to actually read up on, and prepare a coherent line of thought on likely subjects.

Jun Okumura said...

Janne: The media came to expect the twice-daily “cling-ons (God, I love writing this)” as part of their daily routines, a way to grab a quick soundbite or two for their paymasters, and each prime minister came to accept that as part of his own daily routine. To eliminate that is to change the terms of trade between the two sides by forcing the reporters covering the prime minister to give up one of their most important tools of the trade for nothing in return. Much of what feeds the media beast must be of little or no use to you. But that’s just the way it is. He who navigates those shoals, prospers; he who doesn’t, flounders.

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