Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

PM ponders “graceful defeat”

August 12, 2009

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, his long-ruling party at risk of losing power in this month’s election,  appears to be pondering the problem of how to lose gracefully.

JAPAN-ELECTION/Speaking on the campaign trail near Tokyo this week, Aso quoted a piece of advice given to his grandfather,  Shigeru Yoshida,  by Japan’s last wartime prime minister.

“One must lose gracefully — that’s what Kantaro Suzuki told Shigeru Yoshida,” Japanese media quoted Aso as saying in a speech in front of a memorial for  Suzuki, who was premier at the time of Japan’s defeat in World War Two. 

“A carp, once it’s on the chopping board, doesn’t flinch even when the knife touches it.”

Aso’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is trailing in opinion polls ahead of an Aug. 30 election.  A  loss would end more than half a century of nearly unbroken rule by the business-friendly party.

The 68-year-old Aso, like his rival, opposition Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama, is the rich grandson of a former premier and often refers to his maternal grandfather, Yoshida, who negotiated the peace treaty ending World War Two.

Last year, when he was elected leader of the LDP on Sept. 22 — Yoshida’s birthday — Aso referred to the anniversary, telling party lawmakers: “Standing here, I feel that this is Taro Aso’s destiny.”

LDP members doubtless hoped then that  the outspoken Aso would lead them to victory at the polls, not call on them to learn how to be good losers.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Issei Kato

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