The “burasagari” press availability on PM Aso’s “extravagant nightlife” was hilarious:
Reporter: You’ve spent several nights in a row going to meetings at high-class restaurants that cost several tens of thousands of yen [per person] a night. I think this is rather divorced from the feelings of the people. What do you think, Prime Minister?
PM Aso: Does the Hokkaido Shimbun regularly use the definition “the people”? At the very least, I think I have mostly been going to hotels. You are changing the story to make it sound like I go to high-class restaurants every night, but that’s not right.
Reporter: But high class…
PM: I’m telling you, stop saying it in such a “gotcha” manner!
In the middle of a financial crisis, it is a waste of time for the Prime Minister to have such worthless conversations twice a day. I think many readers don’t understand why these availabilities are called “burasagari” (literally “trailing behind”). Originally, it’s because the reporters would literally trail behind the PM as he walked from the PM’s office to the Diet building, but so many cameramen tripped and injured themselves that Koizumi took the policy that he would “no longer respond to burasagari.” In a bind, the PM’s office press club asked the PM, “We will behave properly, so please [let us do the burasagari]” and restarted the availabilities in a fixed location.
When Fukuda [announced his resignation] and stopped [holding press availabilities], the Worst Newspaper Ever (tr: Yomiuri Shimbun) whined “Relinquishing the Responsibility to Explain is Unacceptable“, but this kind of thing is neither a responsibility nor an obligation. It is a back-scratching arrangement with the press club to provide fodder to reporters who won’t investigate. In no other country in the world does the top leader hold two press conferences every day. I think that even the Chief Cabinet Secretary, whose job it is to administer the cabinet, should stop holding a press conference each morning and evening. Instead they should install a dedicated Press Secretary. Government leaders have much, much more important things to do than act as protector of the press club.