Aso Backs off of Tactless Emperor-Visit-Yasukuni Speech PLUS

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Aso Qualifies Remark Calling For Emperor To Visit Yasukuni

TOKYO (Kyodo)–Foreign Minister Taro Aso clarified Tuesday that his call over the weekend for the emperor to visit the war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo was not meant for the emperor to go there ”in the current situation.”

”I made the remark from the standpoint of the spirits of the war dead enshrined (at Yasukuni) because they died for the emperor. I never said that (I wanted) the emperor to make the shrine visit in the current situation,” Aso told a news conference.

Aso said Saturday in a speech in Nagoya that ”From the viewpoint of the spirits of the war dead, they hailed ‘Banzai’ for the emperor — none of them said long live the prime minister. A visit by the emperor would be the best.”

Nothing witty to say about this guy, but I have discovered a wonderful site dedicated to the man. This site is as fascinating as it is jam-packed with information. Some quick highlights:

  • – He reads 30 comic books per week. 30! (Was once caught reading Rosen Maiden in the VIP room at Haneda Airport, and had comics shipped to him when he was in America)
  • – In addition to comics, he reads a ton of normal books and is an intelligent man with lots of stories to tell (Yet another counterexample to the facile notion that problematic politicians are simply fools)
  • – Visits Yasukuni Shrine every year despite being a Christian (Christians are, of course, forbidden to worship other gods as one of their most basic tenets)
  • – Is apparently aware of the existence of 2-channel as a “problem forum site on the Internet”
  • – Was voted best dresser in the political world in 1977
  • – Speaks English, having studied at Stanford and London University after graduating from Gakushuin, which before the abolition of the peerage in 1947 was an exclusive finishing school for the Japanese nobility
  • – Lived in Sierra Leone for 2 years developing diamond mines but left after a civil war erupted
  • – Once said, “I think the best country is one in which rich Jews feel like living.”
  • – Treated billionaire Bill Gates to cheap curry rice at the Diet building’s cafeteria
  • – Despite his pedigree as the grandson of former PM Shigeru Yoshida, he speaks crass Japanese, perhaps because he grew up around coal miners.
  • – Exchange between Aso and Asahi reporter:
  • Aso: “Are you from Asahi? You guys only print the facts, right?”
    Asahi: …
    Aso: “Don’t you understand sarcasm?!”
    Asahi: …

  • – Was in the yacht club during his time at Gakushuin
  • 2ch Ascii Art compilation (The floppies are for his infamous “We’ll do all govt administration on floppy disks by 2005” statement, which is still up on Aso’s website.)
  • More to come as time permits.