Sunday, 7 December 2008


Apparently, a few days ago Aso told Obuchi Yuko point blank to her face "you were included in this cabinet for electoral reasons".

Everyone knew that she was given her position as a gesture, nothing more, already. For a start, she was the youngest person appointed to a cabinet position post-war, becoming Minister of State in Charge of the Declining Birth Rate at the age of 34. She's very popular, not only because she's young and female, but because of her previous newscasting career, and because her father, Keizo, was prime minister for two years.

Also, her position is a bit of a joke. Minister in Charge of Declining Birth Rate? You'll probably be aware that Japan has a huge problem with their aging population. Their birth rate is one of the lowest out of all developed nations - 7.8 per 1000, compared to the UK's 10.6, or the US with 14.2. Plus they have the longest-living population in the world, with the male life expectancy at 79 and female at 85. And that's not the average lifespan, it's the life expectancy. If you don't live at least that long then you've failed.

So in ten years time about 30% of the population will have retired, and the pension-tension will destroy the country. That's ostensibly why Obuchi was appointed to this new cabinet position. Interestingly, she herself only has one child. Pretty weak, right? She's going to have to really start churning them out if she wants to make any difference.

My point is, it's just spiteful for Aso to tell her that to her face. Maybe he hadn't made his quota for pissing people off, or maybe he was just feeling particularly bastardous. Either way, I can't help but wonder whether such a person is really fit to be Prime Minister.

Aso's "cut-throat electoral expediency face"