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Scrum at ruling party HQ says it all?

July 31, 2009

“Why can’t the LDP do this better?”

That’s what many reporters were saying when Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced its campaign platform on Friday.

They weren’t talking about the party’s campaign pledges for the Aug. 30 election,  which the LDP could well lose to the rival Democratic Party, ending more than half a century of almost unbroken reign by the LDP.

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Instead, they were blasting the LDP’s lack of preparation for a media briefing to present their manifesto ahead of its official unveiling.  For one thing,  the LDP didn’t make enough copies and had to print out more at the last minute.  It also chose rooms at its headquarters that were far too small to fit in all the reporters, forcing many to stand in crowded corners.  And finally, the media briefing started more than an hour later than scheduled.

Getting a copy of the manifesto was like being in a rugby scrum or cramming oneself onto the last train home in Tokyo. 

 When some 100 embargoed copies were gone after a minute or so,  one reporter yelled: “We’ve been waiting here for one hour. You could have counted how many of us were waiting and done something!”  

Another said: ”Didn’t they learn anything from what the (opposition) Democrats did when they announced their manifesto?”

The Democrats, who announced their  campaign platform on Monday,  rented a huge conference room at a hotel in Tokyo after they figured out that a room at its party headquarters would not be big enough. Some still had to stand at the back, but the party had enough copies for some 500 reporters.

“It is another sign that the end is near for the ruling party,” one reporter whispered.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer

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