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LDP Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Takes Girl for a Joy Ride

May 14, 2009

The two leading headlines for politics this morning in Japan are the election for the new head of the DPJ, and another political scandal involving the ruling party, the LDP. Since I’ve been covering Japanese politics there have been quite a few scandals, including misappropriation of funds that eventually brought down the head of the DPJ, and a scandal at the G7 where the finance minister was reportedly “drunk”. Each newspaper talked differently about the embarrassing acknowledgment from former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Kounoike Yoshitada, that he took a young girl for a ride on the JR line using his government issued pass.

Nikkei “We Left on a Romantic Getaway” The Nikkei states in their first paragraph that the accusation is “roughly true”, according to the general secretary of the LDP party. The rumor that Kounoike took his JR pass that’s supposed to be used for cabinet members and used it to go out with a girl on a “romantic getaway” was verified by the general secretary last night in a news conference.

In response, Prime Minister Aso stated that a pass being used for anything other than its intended purpose is extremely regrettable. He then said, “ I now have to make a new appointment for the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary.” The current state of Kounoike, adds the Nikkei, is that he’s in the hospital.

Asahi Kounoike’s in the hospital, where it is I don’t know” Asahi reported word for word Prime Minister Aso’s responses. As usual, they add in all the funny nuances that are otherwise left out by the summaries of the Nikkei. They reported an interview of Aso that made him sound tired, made him sound more of a weathered politician who’s come across many reappointments. “Within the past seven months I’ve had many reappointments. Most are for health reasons, and to be honest, health reasons are something that’s hard for me to understand.”

It’s important to note here that “health reasons” were also the reason that the former finance minister had resigned from the LDP. Although later he admitted to drinking 4-5 drinks the night before, I’ve found that Japanese politicians usually use “health” as a cover story to attempt to cleverly resign from their position.

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