Keen observer of Japanese politics I am not. Neither do I possess keen interest. But surely it does not take a political pundit to note the constant change in leadership in the last decade. Obuchi Keizo. Mori Yoshiro. Koizumi Junichiro. Abe Shinzo. Fukuda Yasuo. Aso Taro. Names of Japanese Prime Ministers in recent memory. Except for Koizumi who held 3 consecutive term and served more than five years in office, the rest lasted barely a year. And the latest man to be bequeathed the toughest job in Japan, Mr. Hatoyama Yukio.
After more than half a century of virtually uninterrupted LDP rule in the country, the incumbent PM, leader of the Democratic Party Japan, was voted into office last August following the historic electoral victory of his party. A recent funding scandal and a lack of clear leadership under the Hatoyama government-opinions gathered from a recent polls- saw support for his cabinet dipping below 50 percent for the first time.
In an attempt to combat his tumbling ratings and to reach out to the public, the Prime Minister announced on New Year’s Day the launch of his official blog, titled Hato Cafe, together with the opening of a Twitter account. “I started this blog as a first step to bridging the gap between people and politics as well as changing this country together”, the PM was quoted. An admirable but lofty ambition if you ask me.
While campaigning on the Internet forms a big part of pre-elections propaganda in the West, online political activity remains rare in Japan. It is perhaps too early to conclude just how meaningful Mr. Hatoyama’s newly opened cafe will be. Meanwhile, here’s an interesting article from the online Asahi column for you to ponder.
As the old adage goes, actions do speak louder than words.