Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Japan and jisatsu

Japan's Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka has died in hospital after apparently committing suicide.

The 62-year-old was found hanged in his Tokyo apartment hours before he was to face questions in parliament over his links to a political funding scandal.

from bbc.co.uk


And there it is: Japan returns to Edo-period politics, courtesy of embattled Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka. I must admit, Britain would have been much better off if Michael Howard had taken a leaf out of this guy's book about twelve years ago. I astounded my students by explaining to them that a British Minister in this position would simply have denied everything, been sent down for two years, served eight months, then come out and made a pile of cash selling his story to the News of the Screws. (Click here if you absolutely have to.)

Further musing: Japan and suicide...

I asked my students what aspects of Japan they thought were the most well known in foreign countries. As usual they opted for "delicious food."

Between gritted teeth, I explained to them that Japanese food does not enjoy such fame (their jaws fell open), whereas the Japanese propensity for killing oneself is the stuff of legend: samurai and their retainers cutting open their stomachs, young men trying to crash their planes into the enemy, angst-ridden salaryman cocking up the running of the keihan line with their inconvenient torsos, and so on and so forth.

My non-gourmands seemed a bit surprised to hear this.


(For previous article on the kamikaze, "The wings of the winds of God", March 2006, click here)


a bunch of quitters.--VMM
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