Monday, August 11, 2008

Loquacious MAFF Minister Gagging on Chinese Dumplings; MOFA Minister Going to Beijing for Same

The print media are all over Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Oota for allegedly dissing consumers on NHK, the national broadcasting company, yesterday. Let me do a full translation of the Asahi online article:

On an NHK program on the 10th, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Oota said with regard to domestic measures for food safety in response to the made-in-China frozen gyoza poisoning incident, “It’s safe in Japan but we will take through measures since consumers, the public, are noisy (やかましい).

MAFF Minister Oota emphasized the difference between Japan and China regarding food safety. He said that “(in Japan,) when the public as consumers say this and that noisily, we must respond to it”, and that “it is different from a country like socialist China, where you can hide undesirable things when they happen and don’t have to think about the consumers.” He further went on to point out that “we are always under pressure (from consumers).”

Regarding the meaning of his statement that [consumers are] “noisy”, AFF Minister oOta explained after appearing on the program, issuing the comment, “I used it in the sense of a democratic country where consumers can uphold their legitimate rights, and meant nothing more than that.”

It’s the use of the word “noisy” that everyone is reacting to—somewhat out of context in my view. As a practical matter, slagging the Chinese the way he did cannot help either—he should have found a more politic way of saying it—but that seems to have been mercifully forgotten in the process. I predicted, sort of, that Mr. Ota would do something like this. Though I think that in this case, the negative response is disproportionately large. So is he still going to Yasukuni after this, with media trailing him? Stay tuned. You only have four days to wait.

Going back to the Chinese dumplings, I still cannot believe that Foreign Minister Komura has suddenly decided to fly to Beijing during the Beijing Olympics and the traditional obon-yasumi just to talk to his Chinese counterpart about the Chinese dumplings case, and only because the public found out that the two sides had been sitting on the case for a whole month until presumably the Olympics would blew over. It’s so embarrassing and demeaning to the office and the Fukuda administration, not to mention a loss of face for the Chinese authorities. Couldn’t they think up a good cover story and have Mr. Komura stay home?


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't "fussy" be a more accurate translation? Or even "demanding" or "persnickety"? "Noisy" isn't used in this context in English, I don't think...

Jun Okumura said...

You have a point, but "fussy" and "persnickety" are more urusai and jubako no sumi wo tsuttsuku than yakamashii. With "demanding", nobody reading the report will understand why they're making such a fuss over it. "Nosily demanding"? "Clamorous"? Give me a word or phrase that conveys the underlying pain-in-the-assiveness.