A Japanese commentator appeared on BBC (and yes, Chris Hogg made his obligatory homage to the liberal gods by describing Mr. Aso as “right-wing” and “foreign-policy hawk”) and explained that the reason that Mr. Aso all but swept the local chapters was that the locals liked his talk of fiscal stimulus. Perhaps. But note that he also swept urban centers Tokyo, Kangawa, Aichi and Osaka. In fact, the only places where he lost electoral votes were Tokushima, Shimane, Kochi and Tottori, which placed 44th, 45th, 46th and 47th among all 47 prefectures in per capita GDP (FY2005), and you can’t get more chiho than that. That’s right, the LDP members in the four poorest prefectures were the only ones to refuse to pay absolute fealty to the public-works-friendly Mr. Aso. True, Mr. Ishiba won only one electoral vote beside his three Tottori Shimane, favorite-son votes, and that came from neighbor-province Shimane. And I can’t deny that he had the message of the times for the LDP faithful. But you have to also credit his my-time-has-come party favorite status, his tireless stumping in the boondocks, his folksy, voluble, talking style (which irritates Western liberals no end)—all the things that said, we have a chance with this guy going up against Ichiro Ozawa—for his strong showing in all the provinces.
Speaking of foreign policy—more broadly including national security—it was not much of an issue in the LDP election and won’t be in the Lower House election either, unless something of catastrophic proportions happens. North Korea could do another nuclear test, and I don’t think that it will have any effect on the election outcome.
Junichiro Koizumi is an heirloom Diet member (third–generation). Shinzo Abe is an heirloom Diet member (third-generation). Yasuo Fukuda is an heirloom Diet member(second-generation). Mr. Aso is an heirloom Diet member (fifth-generation). That’s a Prime-Minister fourpeat for the LDP Heirlooms; MJ didn’t do it, Kobe hasn’t done it—in fact, you have to go all the way back to Red Auerbach and the 58/59-65/66 Boston Celtics to top it.
The Western media has focused on Mr. Aso’s Roman Catholic faith. In fact, he will be the third Christian Prime Minister in post-WW II Japan, after Tetsu Katayama (1947-48) and Masayoshi Ohira (1978-80), non-Catholics both. That’s three Christians out of 29 PMs, not bad when you consider that only 2 million out of 130 million Japanese are Christians. Sokagakkai has what, 16 million members? And all they get is one measly Minister per Cabinet. I’m pretty sure that you won’t find any Christians among the pre-WW II PMs though.
I think your doubts about preWW2 Christian PM's are misplaced. I believe that both Takashi Hara and Korekiyo Takahashi were Christians. (To associate with this the fact that both were assassinated, Takahashi in niniroku, would be, um, un-Christian.) You would think that Shidehara (not pre-war as PM, but otherwise so) would be a good candidate, too, but I don't think he fit the bill. However, his wife, from the Mitsubishi Iwasaki's, was reputed to have been baptized.I would have taken perverse delight in locating a little Christianity among the the PM's from the militarist age, but came up with goose eggs. William Bogaty
I usually do my homework, but this time, I relied on guesswork. See what happens?
Thank you, Mr. Bogaty. People like you make it worth the effort. And keep me honest.
Hosokawa Morihiro was also strongly believed to be Christian. His family includes many Christians, and when he resigned, he read the death poem of Hosokawa Garasha, a famous Christian (amazing what you can find on the Internet).
By the way, I like the way you go after the BEEP (aka BBC). Their habit of calling Japanese politicians all kinds of adjectives is so old. Do they say "the nationalist McCain" or "left-wing Brown"? Why not simply identify politicians by party name!
Martin, I also had Morihiro Hosokawa in mind, not because of his own possible Christian faith (I was unaware of that rumor until I saw your comment) but because of the Gracia (Garashia) connection.
It's interesting that no one bothered (or dared?) to ask Mr. Hosokawa. In Japan, faith seems to be something that you tend to keep to yourself. The main reason Sokagakkai met with hostility in its growth years was their relentless proselytizing. Anything goes, but please do it quietly. Religion resembles sexual orientation in that way.
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