The Crazy Guy for Prime Minister, Please

OK, admittedly I am supremely unqualified to write a post about the current prime ministerial vacancy in Japan. I’m a historian who works on the 16th century, not an expert in contemporary politics. And many people have their eyes fixed on the Palin-Biden-Clinton-McCain-Obama slugfest. But this story–Manga-obsessed, Stanford- and SOAS-educated, former Olympic skeetshooter, cement CEO, Catholic, and regular conservative crazy talker Aso Taro is front runner for the job of Prime Minister–is just too interesting to pass by.

Will the man who made Doraemon Japan’s cultural ambassador be king? Too may politicians have entered the race to be sure at this point, but he is at the head of the pack, having previously aimed for the office three times without success and this time apparently claiming the right mix of experience, LDP credentials, and public popularity. Tobias Harris says Aso isn’t the right man for the job, if such a figure even exists, but it seems quite likely that he will end up landing the post (in elections to be held in October or November) according to recent coverage in Japanese newspapers.

Some commentators see recent public discomfort with LDP leadership as a sign that a major political reallignment is imminent, but it just seems hard to imagine. Are the times a-changin’, or will Aso return the government to stability? More importantly, will manga become required reading on unversity entrance exams?


  1. Sounds interesting and rather far-fetched, but neither as interesting or far-fetched as the concept behind the manga 『内閣総理大臣信長』(_Naikaku Souridaijin Nobunaga_ “Prime Minister Nobunaga”), where it is imagined that Oda Nobunaga is active in the present Heisei period as a reform party candidate who wins election as Prime Minister. If you ever wanted a visual of how Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and their followers would have looked wearing business suits, then this is your manga…

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