As a child, I once bought "colored chicks" at a festival stall. At first, I found my new pets amusing, but soon I was disillusioned as I realized that the young birds had been artificially colored garish red and green. When I think back, I feel bad. "Even painted/ Some chicks still remain unsold" goes a "senryu" satirical poem by Asako Komata.
Every time I think about the fate of lawmakers who are collectively called "children" or "girls" of some influential politicians, this senryu comes to my mind. Apparently, they won their seats in the Diet by "painting" themselves in the color of those politicians. But they are later used as pawns to boost the numerical strength of those bosses, and there is no guarantee about their future.
Former Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa decided to quit the party and take along with him the chicks he has been keeping under his wing. He is said to be planning to start a new party with some 50 members from the two houses of the Diet. In effect, the lawmakers, who had entrusted their letters of resignation from the party to Ozawa, left their fates in the hands of their boss instead of voters.
Many of the renegades are rookies who are serving their first terms. They got their jobs as lawmakers thanks to the public opinion's "bubble," or swollen support, for the change of government. With all due respect, most of them are unlikely to be re-elected as DPJ members now that the bubble has collapsed. Because of that, they must have thought it would be wiser to leave their fate to Ozawa, who knows how to win elections, and fight the next election under the banner of opposing a tax increase or even breaking with nuclear power generation.
Let me quote a tanka poem by Yoko Daido from the Asahi Kadan tanka column that is in striking contrast with the above-mentioned senryu: "Strawberry jam/ The color deepens on its own/ I intend to stay who I am."
Strawberry jam, whose color gets redder without the help of artificial coloring as it boils down, is honorable. So must be politicians.
At times of turbulence, what is important is "one's own color." Rookie lawmakers who rely on artificial coloring and remain dependent on influential politicians will eventually disappear. Those who are angry at being called chicks, why not decide on your own what step to take after quitting your party as a group? One way is to wash yourself of unneeded coloring and make a fresh start. Another option is to make use of your experience in national politics to embark on a new career.
--The Asahi Shimbun, July 3
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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