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Japan's ruling party distributes 'anti-gaffe manual' after blunders lead to resignations

Former Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Yoshitaka Sakurada (left), and former State Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ichiro Tsukada, who resigned from their posts over gaffes. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has seen some of its members resign from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet due to blunders, has distributed a gaffe prevention manual to party members, it has been learned.

The manual, titled "How to Prevent 'Gaffes' and 'Misunderstandings,'" is apparently meant to help party members prepare for the House of Councillors election set for this summer. It comes in the wake of the resignations of Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Yoshitaka Sakurada, who had been racking up a pile of gaffes since his appointment, and State Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ichiro Tsukada, who had made a comment implying influence-peddling.

A summary of training sessions given by the LDP's Public Speeches Division in February and March were compiled into a "Public Speaking Handbook," and the "gaffe prevention manual" came as an extra edition of the handbook in a single A4-size page. It was distributed in data form to the LDP's National Diet members, prefectural chapters, and prospective candidates in the upcoming upper house election.

The cautionary manual opens with a warning that one must be aware that "comments can be 'clipped' out of context," and provides specific instructions on how to prevent that from happening. "Droning on and on with a lot of commas increases the risk of having one's statements 'clipped.' By speaking in short sentences with periods, one can reduce excess phrases," the manual reads.

In a section about "'strong words' that have a tendency to be used in titles," the manual lists five types of potentially problematic speech: personal views on historical understanding and political ideology; personal views on gender and LGBT issues; comments that lack consideration toward accidents and disasters; comments about illness and old age; and banter-type expressions that could draw laughs from those close to oneself. "Historical understanding" has an annotation that reads, "It is difficult to apologize for, and has a tendency to become drawn out." Additionally, there is a warning that "even at private meetings, anyone is capable of leaking photos and videos."

In closing, the manual reads, "There is a need for greater consideration when referring to 'the disadvantaged' and 'victims,'" and goes on to warn, "Be careful to step on the 'brakes' in one's speech."

The manual is scrupulous in its instructions, but one source involved with the LDP who saw the manual said, "What a pathetic state of affairs."

(Japanese original by Shuhei Endo, Political News Department)

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