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[Opinion] Koizumi-Like

Posted May. 19, 2005 23:34,   


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi`s glibness is well known. His emergence to power despite having no genealogy in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is the origin of factional politics, owes much to his piercing eloquence. His nickname is "meddler." In a nation whose prime ministers change every one or two years or even several months, Koizumi stayed in power for five years and established himself as one of the longest reigning prime ministers thanks to his effective and unique performance called "one-phrase politics." He leads politics and consensus with 15-second comments.

Because speaking is his specialty, he can be incoherent at times. For example, when he wanted to reform the Foreign Ministry, he said, "The consensus demands the reform." Yet, when he was accused of ignoring the consensus, he said, "You might miss the target if you do politics according to consensus." When no Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) were discovered even after the United States conquered Iraq, he was cornered for having dispatched the Self-Defense Forces. But he scolded back, saying, "Does it mean that Hussein does not exist just because we did not find him yet?" He was standing firm in his error, reasoning that it was only because they could not discover WMDs yet.

Japan`s Self-Defense Forces, by law, are only permitted to be dispatched to non-battle zones. Japan`s opposition party questioned, "Where in Iraq is not a hot zone?" But Koizumi disconcerted his counterpart by saying, "How would I, standing here, know the combat and non-combat situation in Iraq?" At times, his true feelings have been unexpectedly revealed, too. "The Japanese Self-Defense Forces are a virtual military. There will come a day when we will endow full honors and status to the organization that secures the nation without having to discuss futilely about whether it is constitutional or not."

His remark on making pilgrimages to Yaskuni Shrine is also contradictory. Although he says that he will continue to pay pilgrimages "in order to pray for peace and console all the war-dead," it is difficult to believe that Asia`s victims are in his mind. A few days ago, he tried to justify his pilgrimage to war criminals with a quote from Confucius: "Loathe the offense, but not the offender." It is nauseating to watch Koizumi-like politicians who are especially glib in self-justifications in and out of the country everyday.

Kim Chung-sik, Editorial writer, skim@donga.com