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Published:May 14th, 2010 10:29 EST

Loud Shirt May Bring Down Japanese PM

By Geoff Dean

 It`s hard not to feel a little pity for the beleaguered Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. It`s hard to feel much but hard not to feel a little.

 You might think that the disaster that is Futenma policy would be enough to bring down the Japanese Administration. After all, the PM campaigned on the promise to get the base moved out of Japan or at the very least, out of Okinawa Prefecture. As PM, he repeated that promise over and over. He has been forced to backtrack to promising to get part of the base out of the prefecture (to Tokunoshima Island just over the Okinawa prefectural border) but the US and the island locals are vehemently rejecting this plan as well.


 Furthermore, he vowed to see that the base was not relocated to Henoko Bay in Nago and saw to it that local anti-base officials were elected including a staunchly anti-base mayor in Nago. And now, he has had to backtrack and admit that the base will be built in Henoko Bay. He is calling for a very modest modification of the original plan, building the new base`s runways on a raised platform as opposed to a landfill but even this slight change has come up against determined US opposition and is likely to fail. Probable end result: Enactment of the original Futenma relocation plan, virtually unchanged. This can not be good for a PM who came to power promising radical change.

 Beyond that, the PM promised to resolve the entire issue by the end of 2009. When that failed, he came up with the end of May 2010. He vowed that he would "risk his (political) life" on making sure that this date was kept. Repeatedly. And now, he has announced that the date will not be met. All this with a July Upper House election looming.

 His advisers have come up with a unique tack for reviving his popularity. They propose to raise the consumption/sales tax or at least, to announce that it will be raised at some point and to some extent. A vague promise of increased taxes? Just before an election? By an extremely unpopular Administration?Even though, sales tax originator former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and tax raiser forner Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto both went down to landslide defeats directly attributed to their consumption tax behavior?

 If all that foolishness plus the endless financial scandals swirling around Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa and Hatoyama, himself (an top aide was recently convicted on corruption and bribery charges), Hatoyama has one more deadly scandal to face.

 He has bad fashion sense.

 Or so says Fashion critic Don Konishi, a popular fashionista in national magazines and on the air. He pointed to a recent "Real Hato Cafe" event where the PM tries to meet with ordinary people informally and holds a barbecue with them. This event has been used to play up how this PM is different from his predecessors.

 Unfortunately, he attended a recent "cafe" wearing a checked shirt. That is to say, red checked in the front and purple checked in the back. With a blue checked left sleeve and a yellow checked right one. And green checked collar and cuffs. Konishi declared that it was "too old, out of date, a garish 1980s style shirt" and that someone should have stopped him from wearing the "fashion crime" in public.

 Konishi`s prediction was equally harsh. "It seems the DPJ is over with this shirt!"

 So when the PM falls as I suspect he will, either in the next few weeks or immediately following the assured disaster of the July Upper House election, don`t blame it on Futenma flip-flopping or inconsistent tax policy or endless political finance scandals or even the first lady`s occasional off-the-wall "I was abducted by aliens" comments.

 It was the shirt that did him in.