【ロンドン＝欧州総局】小泉純一郎首相は28日付の英紙タイムズとのインタビューで中国が反対する靖国神社の参拝について「中国の指導者は私の意図をご存じだと思う」と答えた。同紙は首相が年末までに靖国神社を参拝する考えを明確にしたとの見方を示した。小泉政権下でナショナリズムが復活しているとの指摘については「あなたが見ているものはナショナリズムではない。日本人は過去を深く反省してきた」と強調した。 (NIKKEI.NET 2005/09/28 14:01)
September 28, 2005 The Times
How a lowly samurai inspired Koizumi to put rebels to sword
By Richard Lloyd Parry and Robert Thomson
Japan’s reforming Prime Minister tells of his great political gamble
WHEN Junichiro Koizumi, the man behind Japan’s political revolution, has time to himself, he seeks refuge in the past, reading about a bloody era of Japanese history known as the Momoyama Period.
Late in the 16th century, after a century of continual civil war, Japan was adrift and in despair. Out of nowhere came a lowly samurai named Oda Nobunaga, who won a series of brilliant victories, overcame the corrupt aristocracy and dominated Japan.
He was an aesthete, art patron and merciless killer. His most notorious act of brutality was to burn down 3,000 Buddhist temples outside Kyoto and butcher their inhabitants. And 400 years later, Oda Nobunaga is a source of inspiration, if not a role model.
“I am learning greatly about the harsh life of a samurai warlord,” Mr Koizumi told The Times in his first interview since winning an election that has turned Japan’s political order on its head. “Every day they faced death. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt.” Like his samurai exemplar, Mr Koizumi has risen from relative obscurity to set in motion a transformation of Japanese politics.
After taking office in 2001 during Japan’s worst postwar recession, he has overhauled the country’s debt-stricken banks, presided over a modest economic recovery and sent troops to Iraq, overcoming a half-century taboo on the dispatch of Japanese military force overseas. In the past few weeks he has carried out a political purge as devastating, in its way, as Oda Nobunaga’s liquidation of the monks of Kyoto.
It began last month with the defeat in the Upper House of Japan’s Diet of legislation that would have brought about Mr Koizumi’s lifelong political goal ? the privatisation of Japan’s post office services. To the dismay of his friends, as well as enemies, the Prime Minister forced a snap election. His Liberal Democratic Party split as opponents of the postal Bills deserted their leader to run as rebel independents.
Mr Koizumi fought the election on a simple set of either/or choices. Postal privatisation or not? Continuing structural reform or a return to the old ways? With me ? or with the rebels? “This election was about asking the Japanese people to turn around the Diet’s decision,” he says.
The result was a massacre. The LDP leapt from 212 MPs to 296; together with their small coalition partner, they control 327 out of 480 Lower House seats. Half of the rebels were wiped out, and 83 new MPs, most of them fervent Koizumi supporters, were elected.
Yesterday, in an exclusive interview in his official residence, he talked about his bitter victory, about the exhausting war against his party enemies, and about the tension between Japan and its neighbours caused by his visits to the nationalist Yasukuni Shrine.
Who could name any of the seven prime ministers who came and went in the ten years before Mr Koizumi? Traditionally it was a job passed from one grey man to the next, and between the competing factions that made up the LDP. Mr Koizumi has put a personal stamp on the office.
It is on his orders that his aides have taken what for Japanese bureaucrats is a radical step: casting off their jackets and ties in favour of open-necked shirts, intended to reduce the need for air conditioning.
Perhaps because of the presence of The Times photographer, the Prime Minister wears a tie today. He talks for 40 minutes in his staccato style, punctuated by jabbing, emphatic hand gestures.
Mr Koizumi’s obsession with postal reform goes back decades. As a young politician he wrote not one, but two, books on the subject (Reasons to Reassemble the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications was followed by Reasons to Privatise Posts and Telecommunications). “I have been saying all along that my top priority has been the privatisation of Japan Post,” he says. “I have called it the bastion of reform. I said that if this can be realised it will be a political miracle. Now it looks likely that the miracle will happen.”
The importance of privatisation has less to do with stamps and letter boxes than with Japan’s postal savings, the vast pot of 355 trillion yen (?1,800 billion) deposited in low-interest accounts by Japan’s cautious and conscientious families. As a vast reserve of money under government control, it has served as a “pork barrel piggy bank”: a fund for the inefficient and wasteful public works projects such as dams, bridges and airports that enrich local construction companies while depleting tax revenues and harming the environment.
The problem for Mr Koizumi is that this money has for decades been the lifeblood of the party he leads. LDP members won supporters and secured their seats by lobbying for money from central government to be spent on construction projects in their constituencies. Mr Koizumi’s reform plans are an attack on an entire system of political patronage. “It was not just the opposition but members of the ruling parties who were opposed,” he said. “In a democracy, it’s no wonder that people doubted its feasibility.”
But in the end, the matter of the postal reform was less important than the manner in which it was pursued: aggressively, confrontationally, by a man with a knack of presenting himself as both Prime Minister and underdog.
“There are people who oppose me, leaders of the ruling party who call me a dictator, ‘Hitler’,” he says. “It is rather a complicated picture. Partly (I won because of) appreciation of my track record over the past four years and public support for the reforms I’ve advanced. I think these are all intertwined.”
The postal Bills are being debated in the newly re-elected Lower House this month; in the Upper House, most of the MPs who threw it out are expected to capitulate this time.
Mr Koizumi’s electoral success is balanced by what looks increasingly like a damaging failure of foreign policy: the unnerving tension between Japan and its powerful neighbour, China. Chinese suspicion of Japan goes back to the invasion of the 1930s. Ten years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, things improved a little when the Japanese Prime Minister offered an apology for Japan’s wartime conduct.
This has been reaffirmed, with varying degrees of emphasis, by subsequent Japanese leaders, including Mr Koizumi. The problem is that he has revived the custom, abandoned by Japanese prime ministers in the 1980s, of paying an annual visit to Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine. There the spirits of the war dead are enshrined as Shinto deities, along with those of 14 Class A war criminals. The reaction from South Korea, and above all China, has been ferocious. In April mobs of demonstrators stoned the Japanese consulate in Beijing.
In June seven former prime ministers pleaded with Mr Koizumi to reconsider; recently, he has been less explicit about his determination to make a pilgrimage this year. But yesterday he gave the impression that he would visit Yasukuni before the year’s end.
“I believe Chinese leaders are aware of my intentions,” he said. “China is opposing my visits to Yasukuni Shrine for political reasons. In addition, I’d assume that China doesn’t welcome a growth in Japan’s political influence. They are opposed, for example, to Japan becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council because they want to check Japan’s influence.”
He passionately denies a commonly expressed suspicion: that under his leadership, Japan is undergoing a resurgence of nationalism. “What you see is not nationalism,” he says. “I believe that Japanese people have deeply reflected over the past. They have remorse about the Second World War, and the strong conviction that they must never again wage war.”
Perhaps the biggest mystery surrounding Mr Koizumi concerns his future. LDP rules require that he step down as party leader, and therefore as Prime Minister, in a year ? a time limit with which he appears quite happy. “I’ll do my level best and in September next year I shall retire,” he says. “I believe I can fulfil what I need to do.”
But Mr Koizumi’s personal popularity is so much higher than his party’s that many LDP MPs know that without his leadership they will lose their seats. He does not rule out the possibility of standing again, but sounds as if he is looking forward to retirement.
“As Prime Minister I enjoy music, but it’s CDs in bed,” he says. “When I quit I’ll go to concerts and movie theatres instead of films on DVD.”
After Oda’s defeat and suicide, it took two more warlords before peace came to Japan. It may be that, like his hero, he will come with hindsight to look more like a transitional figure than the revolutionary he appears. Perhaps the best he can hope for is that, unlike Oda’s, his career ends peacefully and on his own terms.
Historical legacy Reunified Japan in late 16th century
Greatest massacre The warrior monks of Mt Hiei, near Kyoto, 1571
Hobbies The tea ceremony
Career end Hara kiri after military defeat in 1582
Historical legacy Reformer in early 21st-century Japan
Greatest massacre Rebels against Postal Privatisation Bill, 2005
Hobbies Listening to Elvis
Career end Due to step down September 2006
‘Leaders of the ruling party call me a dictator, Hitler. It is complicated’
‘I am reading about the harsh life of a samurai warlord. Every day they faced death. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt’
‘China doesn’t welcome a growth in Japan’s political influence’
‘Japanese people have very deeply reflected on the past. They have remorse about the Second World War and more than any other people have the strong conviction that they must never again wage war’
インタビューは靖国神社参拝に関連して、日中関係も取り上げ、首相は「中国は日本の政治的な影響力の拡大を歓迎していないと思う」と指摘。日本が目指す国連安全保障理事会常任理事国入りに中国が反対している理由についても、首相は「国際社会での日本の影響力を抑えたいからだ」と述べた。（共同）[産経新聞 09/28 22:24]
But yesterday he made it clear that he would visit Yasukuni before the year’s end.