Something feels off, but I just can't put my finger on it. I am referring to the Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's gift to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a wooden hissho shamoji rice scoop believed to bring victory.
A specialty in Hiroshima where Kishida is from, it is a lucky charm that helps the owner scoop up victory as if they were rice. The sports fans in Hiroshima bring their team to stadiums in hopes of seeing their team triumph, while campaign staffers carry them for the candidates they work for.
I still can't fathom what makes Kishida tick.
As a diplomatic custom, it is pretty common for a leader of a nation to bring something from their homeland as a gift to the host nation, said Kishida.
Ukraine is at war. Many lives are lost on both sides of the conflict. I don't think it is appropriate for Kishida, whose nation upholds peaceful diplomacy, to try to convey an anti-war message with something as utterly naive as the word victory written on a wooden rice scoop.
Many of Kishida's recent words and deeds have raised questions about their propriety.
At a recent supporters convention, he distributed Summit manju buns with sweet bean paste fillings. The Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May is an ideal opportunity for Japan to appeal for peace from the site of the 1945 atomic bombing. For Kishida, the importance of impressing himself upon his constituents justifies the importance of using the summit for self-promotion.
When he was visiting Fukushima, he was asked by a young man why he decided to become prime minister. He said that the prime minister has the greatest authority in Japan. I felt weak because of the flimsiness of his words.
Authority is nothing more than a means to an end, never an end in itself. Why didn't Kishida speak frankly about his ideals on which he tried to become a politician?
Then listen, Mr. Kishida. Do you ever see something alarmingly off about yourself?
Kishida is currently in charge of policy debates of great significance that could change the nature of the country, such as vastly increased defense spending.
Where will Kishida take us? I am deeply worried.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that covers a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. The column is written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers and provides useful insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.