DPJ’s Hatoyama-owned Izakaya Closes: Business Suffered from Artificially Low Prices

I have far too much class to make a crass comment about this story. No, I won’t be calling it “exemplary of the DPJ’s unrealistic approach to economic policymaking,” nor will I point out the dubious authenticity of Hatoyama’s claim that democracy is originally rooted in izakaya (though wouldn’t it be great if that were the case?). I will, however, mention that the establishment has “Hato-bo” (dove sticks, a play on Hatoyama’s name) on the menu. Guess what they are? Chicken meatballs on a stick! With a special sauce!

The izakaya (Japanese-style pub) “Tomoto” opened by (main opposition party) Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama and a friend was set to be shut down on December 28.

With the motto “Democracy’s very basis is an izakaya where [politicians] can interact with the citizens knee-to-knee,” [tr: “knee-to-knee” refers to the Japanese practice of kneeling on the floor at Japanese-style restaurants, etc. The Western equivalent would be “face to face”] Hatoyama himself often showed up at the establishment, but business apparently suffered in part due to the fact that prices were kept low in order to allow customers to cheerfully relax.

Before the Democratic and Liberal parties merged [in 2003], Hatoyama would often invite Liberal Party members such as then-party president Ichiro Ozawa, turning the pub into a “political stage.”

Hatoyama was quoted as saying, “I was happy to have met various people and have them enjoy a point of contact between politicians and salarymen for 3 years. Now we are closing shop, but the memory of Tomoto remains, and I would like to reopen it given another chance.”