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Opinion: Abe's crass, insincere responses turning Diet into kindergarten playground

In this illustration by column author Takashi Matsuo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe points his finger while saying "You shouldn't point fingers at people like that."

The following is an opinion article by TV personality Takashi Matsuo.


    In response to House of Representatives Democratic Party lawmaker Nobuyuki Fukushima's question about Mrs. Akie Abe becoming deeply involved with school operator Moritomo Gakuen, her husband, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, replied, "Deeply involved? You shouldn't use such classless phrases. It's affecting the Democratic Party's approval ratings," dodging the question entirely.

    While the non-answer could be a hurried defense uttered to somehow try to conceal the inappropriate relationship he and his wife had with the scandal-hit operator, isn't it a bit too crass?

    First of all, the response was extremely insincere. The contents did not answer the question at all, only grasping onto the tail-end of the question and feeding it back to take up time and make it look as though he made an effort to answer. It's the first time I have ever heard "deeply involved" being called a "classless phrase," but I think the real classless act here is calling a fellow lawmaker "classless" on such a public stage. In the utterance of such an expression, it isn't difficult to imagine that Mr. Abe's overreaction came about precisely because he feels an abnormal sense of guilt and fear.

    Meanwhile, it is Prime Minister Abe himself who said, "This is the first election where the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party have gotten so deeply involved with each other," about a by-election in the Hokkaido No. 5 electoral district last year. Apparently, the words are only classless when members of opposition parties use them, not when the prime minister uses them himself -- the usual contradictory on-the-spot excuse.

    This egotistical and irreverent behavior as if Mr. Abe believes he is special shows that he is a classless prime minister, which I already knew and thus don't expect much out of him anyway, but the phrase "being deeply involved" and "the approval rate of the Democratic Party" have absolutely nothing to do with each other. All I can see is a prime minister refusing to answer a question, wasting time and taxpayer money in the process.

    Is criticizing the lawmaker who asked you a question you don't want to answer by saying that their party's approval rating is low something that an adult, let alone a policymaker, should be doing in the first place? Saying something that the other person would disapprove of because you don't have a good comeback for their question is on the same level as jokes about another child's mother on a kindergarten playground.

    If an entertainer was asked a question they didn't want to answer by the host of a television program and they answered, "Don't ask such a classless question. That's why the viewer ratings for this show are so bad," you can bet that they would never be invited back on that show or any program on that TV station again. If there was trouble between two neighboring shops and one owner said, "Your shop's sales don't expand because you say stuff like that," they would end up on bad terms forever. The same is true in negotiations between two countries. If one doesn't agree with the request from the other, they wouldn't say, "Don't suggest such a classless condition. It's reflected in your country's low gross domestic product," because that's not how foreign diplomacy works.

    Diet legislators and Cabinet members, who are representatives of the citizens of their country, should treat each other with respect. I would like to think that someone in the position of prime minister of a nation would honestly take criticism head-on, but I get the feeling from his actions that the leader of our country doesn't care if he compromises the authority and dignity of the Diet to save his own skin, regardless of the consequences.

    Mr. Abe also has told opposition party members in the Diet, "You should probably stop pointing fingers," but then goes ahead and quite glaringly points his own finger at them. I have witnessed the spectacle of the prime minister putting on a face as though he can't give a decent answer because of jeers while continuing to only pretend to answer questions time and time again, but hasn't he also revealed the absurdity of the prime minister repeatedly making crass jeers and erratic statements himself? Why does only he get a special free pass? That's something I would like to see him explain.

    While he's at it, I would also like a detailed explanation as soon as possible on suspicions that he got "deeply involved" with Kake Educational Institution -- yet another "special" school operator.

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