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From Editor
Kakuei Tanaka and Horiemon

2, 06. 2006

   These days, events surrounding Horie, President Livedoor Co., nicknamed Horiemon (derived from the popular Japanese comic character “Doraemon”) are enlivening up the Japanese TV screens.

   Search of the company premises and Horie’s residence ordered by the Tokyo Public Prosecutor’s office began from the night of 16th January. In the background, high-rise Roppongi Hills, the new landmark in Tokyo, could be seen as Horie appeared for a press conference. Horiemon was, as usual, in his customary casual outfit and spoke in his unpretentious style. Sporting his trademark smile typical of quiz programs or news shows, the other day he was soaked in the hot spring in a relaxed mood in a program on mountain ascetics. A man prosecuted for a serious economic scandal yet so relaxed gave the impression that you are watching a TV drama.
   Among the Japanese in their 50s or 60s, they would found glimpses of former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.
   It will be simpler if I say father of former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka. He hailed from a poor village in Niigata Prefecture submerged under heavy snow at this time of the year and rose to the post of the Prime Minister. He had no educational credentials to speak of and was somewhat rough in his behavior but had a good brain and was a sensitive person. Those days when bureaucrats or the establishment dominated the scene, his was an out-of-the ordinary success story in the political world.
   He was against the currently powerful group led by P. M. Koizumi. The then P.M. Fukuda (father of Yasuo Fukuda, former Chief Cabinet Secretary), boss of Koizumi was the central figure and he was an ex-bureaucrat from the Ministry of Finance. Fukuda and Tanaka were involved in power struggle for 10 long years called the “10 year war”.
   Tanaka becomes the P. M. in 1972. He stepped down in 1974 for his criticism of being a plutocrat. In 1976 he was arrested for having received bribe from Lockheed, the aircraft manufacturer of America. Those days also, television reported on him day and night. In the background was his palatial house in up market Mejiro. The common factor between Horiemon and Kakuei Tanaka was their popularity with the masses.
   I was a journalist just around the time he was arrested and for 2 years, I lived in his constituency and gathered news about the reason behind his popularity and his money sense. True to his nickname of being a plutocrat, I came across many tales about his money affairs. He was dirty as a politician but his electorate did not think his rise to eminence and accumulation of wealth to be ‘bad’ as he hailed from a poor region.
   There is a definite difference between the political world and the financial world but at the bottom of the popularity of Horiemon is also resentment against the establishment. And then, there is the desire of the peace-loving common Japanese to be a rich person like Horiemon.
   The ghost of Kakuei Tanaka’s popularity raises its head even now from time to time. Arguments for and against Horiemon are already sweeping the net.

Masao Ninagawa

Related Information: See Masao Ninagawa “Kakuei Tanaka is still alive”(Tokuma Web Books)

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