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Japan: Obama vs. Aso

Like every other country in the world, Japan, one of the strongest of America's allies in Asia, followed closely the election of President Obama. His speech (which, collected with other election speeches, is so popular that it has become a bestseller and is used as an English-language textbook) has been broadcast, translated [ja] and commented on [ja] in all kinds of ways by the Japanese media and local TV shows. So it was natural that many bloggers drew comparisons between the American President and the Japanese Prime Minister, Tarō Asō (麻生太郎).

Not that the Japanese PM's unpopularity surprises anyone anymore, given that polls have for months made this obvious. But it is in these last few days, after millions of people crowded squares, bars and livingrooms to listen to the newly-elected President's words, that once again Asō's lack of charisma (and, generally-speaking, the lack of charisma of other Japanese politicians as well) have become glaringly obvious.

Examining expressions used in their speeches, blogger Masablog pointed out how remarkable the differences are between these two politicians:

大統領が変わるというのはアメリカ人にとって全てが変わる(かもしれない)特別なイベントなんだろう。
一方、日本。麻生首相のインパクトもすっかり薄れてしまった。
オ バマと麻生の一番の違いは「We」と「I」だろう。オバマの演説は、Weで始まる。我々はこうしなければならない、できる、のような感じ。一方の麻生首相 は「私は」で始まる。首相になったときの演説も「わたくし麻生太郎は・・・・わたしは・・・」「解散権はわたしにあります・・・」のような感じ。この時点 でもう視点が違うのが明らかになってしまっている。

The change of a president is, for Americans, a very special event that changes everything (I guess).
On the other hand, in Japan, Prime Minister Asō’s impact has already become weak.
The first difference between Obama and Asō is [the use of] “We” instead of “I”. Obama’s speeches start with “We”, as in, “We have to do this…We can”. On the other hand, PM Asō’s [speeches] start with “I”. Also the speech pronounced when he became Prime Minister was something like “I, Taro Asō…..I…” or “I have the right to dissolve [the Diet] …”. In these areas the difference is fairly clear.

id: kiku18-rak considers the two political figures from many points of view. Asō's political and human sides turn out to be rather shallow.

あくまで、新聞テレビの報道に基づく個人的意見であるがオバマ氏と麻生総理の違いを感じるままに書き綴ってみたい。

1 国民の人気者(オバマ)と、国民の敵(麻生)
2 国民のための政治家と、一部の権力者のための政治家
3 世界的にも評価が高いのと、世界的の前に国内で評価されない者
4 庶民の感覚を持った者と、庶民を愚弄する者
5 自らの考えをしっかり伝える者と、何を考えているのか意味不明の者
6 人格者と、そうでない者

What I will write below is just my personal opinion and it is based only on what I could see on TV, but what I'd like to do is to jot down a few differences between Obama and Asō, as I see them.

1 The popular one among the people (Obama) and the enemy of the people (Asō)
2 A politician [who works] for the people and a politician [who works] for one group of influential people
3 One who is respected everywhere in the world and one who is not even respected in his own country
4 A person who is capable of being sympathetic with the people and a person who mocks the people
5 A person who can communicate what he thinks and a person whose thoughts are a mystery to many
6 A person of character and a person whose character is not well definable

こうやって書いてみると、自分まで日本人として情けなくなってしまう。
片方がライオンだとすると、片方はハエみたいなもんだ。
いずれにせよ、オバマ新大統領の下でアメリカが一つにまとまり、良い方向に向かって歩き出せば、全世界にとって良いことだろう。
日本もトップを早く変えたほうが良いのだが、駄々っ子が椅子にしがみついて離そうとしない。

Writing this I myself feel very pitiful as Japanese.
If on the one hand there is a lion, on the other there is a fly.
At any rate, though, America has been reunited under President Obama, and if he begins to move in the right direction, it will be a positive step for the whole world.
Japan should also change their leadership, but the spoiled child won't leave the chair he is clinging to.

As often happens, comparisons also stimulate those who are being compared to reflect upon their own troubles and on ways of tackling them. In this case, in fact, by comparing Japan to U.S., some bloggers realized that, for Japan as well, the time to change has come, and that the next general elections may be a possible starting point.

Hidenori Kusakari (草刈 秀紀), for example, wrote:

    
 オバマは、国民の声を大統領執務室に持って行くと名言した。一方、国民の声など無視して、強引に事を進める麻生。
 正反対の動きは、日本とアメリカの将来を占っている。
 多様な人種が暮らすアメリカと単一民族の日本。
 自民党政治が終焉を迎え、日本は、どちらに向かうのか?
 オバマの影響をこれから、どの程度受けるのか?
 今年の衆議院選挙で日本の将来が決まると言って過言ではない。

Obama declared that he would bring the voice of the people to the White House. On the other hand, Asō ignores the voice of the people and continues [to propose] new things by force.
The future of Japan and U.S.A. is moving in two opposite directions.
The U.S., where many different races live together, and Japan, with only one people.
With the Liberal Democratic Party's life drawing to a close, where is Japan heading?
At what level will we be influenced in the future by Obama?
It is no exaggeration to say that, with the next general elections this year, Japan’s future will be decided.

Similarly, ki2naru, expressed their belief of a necessary radical change for the country's sake.

日本でも福田さんから麻生さんへ総理大臣が変わったとき、麻生さんの秋葉系とかちょっと違う感じがすると思って皆も期待していたのだろうが、フタを開けてみるとさらに自民党は混迷し、政治、経済対策も空白状態。
政治家も官僚も財界トップも自分の身を傷つけないようなことばかりやっている。
本当にこの国を良いほうに持っていくには大胆な構造改革が必要だと思う。
内科的処置ではなく外科手術が必要ではないのかと?

In Japan, when Asō became Prime Minister after Fukuda, everybody had great expectations, feeling that he, who likes Akihabara so much, was a bit different. However, when everything actually began there they were: LPD’s confusion, blank politics and economic measures.
Politicians, bureaucrats and the powers of the industry, they are all acting together in order to not cause problems to each other.
I believe that a bold structural revolution is needed to bring some good to this country.
It's not an internal treatment, but a surgical operation that is needed, no?

2 comments

  • Thanks for translating this. Nice to hear from ordinary folk that enough is enough of Aso and co.

  • I have just published a book in Spanish about Obama. Its name is “El secreto de Obama” (The Obama Secret). I speak about his public speaking skills. If you are interested in learning more about it, please visit my blog.

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