Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is Yoshito Sengoku the Japan's Real Prime Minister?

Yoshito Sengoku, Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary (Deputy Prime Minister)

Watching Japanese politics for quite sometime here, this is the question I wanted to ask to Mr. Sengoku when he gave a press conference early July 2010 in Tokyo. Unfortunately, in spite of being recognized by the Chief Cabinet secretary (photo), of raising my arm and hands for... ~50 minutes, standing in front of the moderator at the Foreign Correspondents club head table -- something that of course was object of comments of many of my supporting friends and colleagues who sent me their support by emails etc-- I was harshly and unexpectedly censored on this day of July 7th in my own press club, and, therefore I could not ask this very same intriguing question!

Customary in Japan, how unfortunate if the foreign media sometimes play the same devious hypocritical things as some of their Japanese kisha club counterparts! Something that I, as a Co Chair of the Fccj Freedom of the Press Committee, would have never tolerated even though I know there are important assignments when you moderate an event with a VIP, something I did professionally for the last decade.

Needless to add that regarding the big picture here, Mr Sengoku real function in Japan's democracy, I have not seen much discussions and debate sent in the media abroad about this [crucial] same question following the repeated errors made by current Prime Minister such as in the Senkaku Daioyu islands territorial disputes, the Yen or the Okinawa Futenma issue.

I admit I am very pleased that the Asahi shimbun group today raises the issue in the current daily in English, months after I tried to ask this same question to this powerful power player; especially I quite know of his up and down political career and the relations between Mr Sengoku and former socialists MPs including Mrs. Takako Doi, Mr. Tomiichi Murayama and others.

So, Is current Japanese Prime Minster Naoto Kan a 'lame duck' Prime Minister and is Japan under the thumb of Japan political greatest figure today, the "Number 2", Mr Sengoku? Well... then, this is the question asked today by the influential and demonstrative weekly Aera of the Asahi shimbun media group, and I am most willing to share it with you on this blog because contrary to what happened to me, here are some elements of the answer.


"In a nation desperate for a strong leader, one politician has recently emerged who has demonstrated crisis-management abilities, gained the trust of Cabinet members and now has an effective grip over government. However, that individual is not Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Instead, it was Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku who played the key role in thawing relations with China over the collision between a Chinese trawler and two Japan Coast Guard vessels near the Senkaku Islands..."

Even more:

..."Originally a Diet member from the former Japan Socialist Party, Sengoku chose four former JSP members for Cabinet posts. Other younger appointees were those Sengoku has advised for many years."...

End of quotes. The Susumu Okamoto story in the Asahi Shimbun Weekly AERA story is here:

Supplementary information deals with the same topic in my older posts on this blog. In the 'China Japan territorial dispute', and in 'Asean +3' issues related posts.

Sources: Reporter's notes, Asahi Shimbun

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