Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Political paparazzi

September 4, 2009

It’s been a scramble for journalists to follow Yukio Hatoyama’s every move after his Democratic Party won the election by a landslide, making him the next prime minister

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From his opulent home to gatherings with political and government figures, reporters chase him all around Tokyo, with pit-stops at the Democrats’ headquarters in Nagatacho, the heart of the capital’s political district.

The Democrats’ modest HQ makes the chase harder. Several dozen reporters, including TV crew and photographers, tussle to catch Hatoyama in just the few metres he has to get from his car to the elevator of the building. Another few dozen reporters are standing by in the very narrow hallway on the eighth floor in front of the offices of party executives, including Hatoyama’s.

“He entered the building,” a reporter shouts after getting a call from a colleague downstairs.

All the cameramen rush to get ready to film 15 seconds of Hatoyama walking into his office.

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It’s the same performance when he leaves and when any other lawmakers or visitors like Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa, who dropped by on Tuesday, enter the building.

Japanese media have started to publish Hatoyama’s minute-by-minute moves, with details on whom he met and where. For that, reporters try to look through the frosted glass door to the executives’ offices to see where Hatoyama is and who has entered his room.

This all sounds crazy and overdone, but maybe it’s what we should expect when the opposition ends more than half a century of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party.

In between the comings and goings, reporters are left to sweat and grumble, all crammed into the tiny foyer with little ventilation and only a few seats in the hallway.

“The air is getting thinner,” one scribbler sighs as the narrow hallway fills with reporters.

“I wonder if they will move to a bigger place?,” another asks.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Toru Hanai, REUTERS/Stringer

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