Friday, October 19, 2012

Newly Minted Justice Minister Keishu Tanaka Refuses to Go Gently into the Night

Keishu Tanaka, the recently appointed Justice Minister, skipped the Friday cabinet meeting and checked into a hospital, which is about as good a precursor of resignation as there is… only, according to Osamu Fujimura, the chief cabinet secretary who took a phone call from the medical patient, he has no intention of resigning.

 It’s hard to believe that Mr. Tanaka could have been hounded out of his assignment if he had faced the lower house Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration, which not coincidentally happens to be chaired by a member of the LDP, the day before and convincingly repeated his claim that 1) he only met the yakuza capo because they were introduced by a third person and did not know that he was a yakuza at the time and that 2) he did not know that the person whose wedding he presided over as the formal matchmaker was a yakuza and told him when he found out that he should wash his foot of the yakuza business. After all, this is a thirty year old claim and it’s not as if he’d murdered somebody, which since 2010 is not subject to the Japanese statute of limitations. (Accepting political funds from a Taiwanese-owned corporation was destined to be a wash once South Korea-related funds turned up in the coffers of Shigeru Ishiba, the LDP’s new secretary-general.*) But he didn’t, and his evasive behavior compels the public to connect the dots on its own about a politician who had already served twelve years as a prefectural assemblyman at a time when the yakuza was a more acceptable and, if you were an entertainer or engaged in public works projects, unavoidable presence in the public sphere.**

Justice Minister Tanaka is the gift that can’t stop giving for the opposition. As for Prime Minister Noda, with friends like this…

* Pardon the analogy, but this is the closest political thing to having unprotected sex. I realize that it can be difficult to ask each and every one of your many donors and/or their executives/shareholders for proper ID, but if you’re not sure, shouldn’t you just say no? After all, the ban on direct and foreign contributions has been the law for quite some time.
** Tanaka’s still imminent demise reminds us of a greater passing, the passing of the days when the yakuza rode among us mere mortals in all their splendid Cadillac and Mercedez glory, the seamier if more glorified side of the Always - Sunset on Third Street, Showa nostalgia.

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