Mr. Fukuda, your term of office is not yet over
Zeami (ca 1363-1443), an actor and playwright who established Noh as a theatrical art, wrote "Kakyo" (The Mirror of the Flower), a critical treatise about the secrets of Noh. In this work, he referred to the phrase riken no ken, which translates as looking at oneself from a distance.
Zeami used the phrase to stress the importance of Noh actors cultivating a sense of detachment, so they can calmly observe their performance from the spectators' point of view.
When he announced his decision to resign on Sept. 1, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said to a reporter defiantly, "I can look at myself objectively. I am not like you."
Those words made me think he might make a good Noh actor.
For a week after that news conference, the prime minister refused to hold regular short interviews with the reporters who thronged his office. If he can look at himself objectively, I wonder how he viewed his own silence.
By refusing to meet reporters, the prime minister denied himself the opportunity to speak publicly. On Monday, he finally appeared before the media and explained the reason for his silence. "The political situation must not be influenced (by what I say)," he said.
My interpretation of those words is that by "the political situation," Fukuda was really referring more or less to the current political game.
His words suggest that he is more concerned about preserving "an environment beneficial to his party's interests" than he is with what is best for the people.
Maybe he doesn't want to be seen as resigning because he had an ax to grind.
But he must not forget that right now, he is still the prime minister. It would be terrible for the nation if he thought that whatever happens after he quits is no concern of his.
Last year, when Fukuda was elected LDP president, I quoted the following verse from "Fushi Kaden" (The Flowering Spirit: Classic Teachings on the Art of No), another treatise by Zeami: "You must not pass down secrets of art to incompetent persons, even if they are your heirs." I also wrote of my concerns about the aspirations and attitudes toward responsibility of the second- and third-generation politicians on the rise. A year later, it seems my fears were proved true.
There is a saying: "It is pitch dark one inch ahead." That does not apply only to the political world. Natural disasters, economic unrest or international problems can strike at any time. In life, we never know what may happen tomorrow. Instead of all the fuss about who will be chosen as his successor, the least the prime minister can do is gird his loins and fulfill his duties to the end.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 10(IHT/Asahi: September 11,2008)