Nobuo Ikeda: We don’t need no stinkin burasagari

Nobuo Ikeda is clearly not as sanguine about the Prime Minister’s press availabilities as our intrepid Sankei reporter (thanks again to commenter Aceface):

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.

6 thoughts on “Nobuo Ikeda: We don’t need no stinkin burasagari”

  1. While I do think that regular press conferences should be required of any major elected official, I’ll admit that twice a day really does sound like overkill. On the other hand, Sarah Palin’s zero times per never is obviously the opposite extreme.

  2. I wonder how much the White House pays for their press briefing area. Do you think they provide coffee and donuts to the White House Press Corps, which is there just as much as the Japanese Press Club, except that they usually only get to interview Dana Perino or whoever instead of someone important.

  3. A significant portion of the cost to maintain foreign correspondent club of Japan is funded from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.Wonder who’s paying to maintain that sushi bar…..

  4. Did I say the FCCJ is a bastion of arms-length, adversarial reporting? No, but you have to wonder what MOFA is getting for its money!

    For foreign reporters in the US, inside the National Press Club building the State Dept. operates a small library-like research office, which doubled as the office where foreign correspondents apply for their press passes. No sushi bar as far as I could tell.

    However, for the actual State Dept. briefings, all that is provided is the room, tables and chairs, a space for cameras, and the dude at the podium answering questions. There is nothing untoward going on, except for a lame “off the record” session after the actual briefing where all the reporters rush to the podium to hear the spokesman dish supposedly inside info.

    I realize the White House is different in that their passes are much harder to get and they play games with the seating arrangements and all sorts of other skullduggery. But I don’t think they pay such a direct subsidy to the media orgs. They instead prefer to cultivate and corrupt individual reporters like David Gregory.

  5. Oh and I should mention that the dominant feature of this research office was a row of Internet-linked computers where foreign correspondents could file stories if need be. I saw one E. European-looking guy using it when I was there, and that was it.

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