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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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Japan has been criticised for being partly absent from the stage of the G20 meeting in India. The reason: Japan's presenteeism requires the entire Cabinet to be present in specific parliamentary sessions, in this case, a budget committee session. Consequently, FM Hayashi had to skip a crucial meeting of his Group of 20 peers in India if he had to field questions in the parliament. The only question he had to answer in the seven-hour session related to the loneliness felt by Japanese ex-pats.

At the seven-hour meeting on Wednesday, Hayashi answered one question, for a total of 53 seconds, on the subject of the loneliness faced by Japanese overseas. A pressing issue, perhaps, but hardly one on the level of Ukraine or the threat of China's incursions into territories that now includes US airspace. The G-20 snub, as it will be seen, comes at a time when Tokyo’s presence at such meetings could hardly be more vital. Japan is the host of the Group of Seven summits this year in Hiroshima, and its geopolitical importance is surging as it looks to boost defence spending in line with plans by the US and allies to build a diplomatic bulwark against China. [...] To be clear, this isn’t Hayashi’s fault. The requirement for ministers to attend budget committees and other meetings is simply the way things have always been done. The constitution compels ministers to appear in parliament “when their presence is required to give answers or explanations.” But how that is administered is largely a matter of tradition rather than written rules, with customers in the past broken only for hospitalizations. Four members of the Cabinet who attended all seven hours of Wednesday’s meeting weren’t asked a single question.

The 53-Second Tradition That's Embarrassed Japan


Sailing away...
Top Donor
3 Aug 2007
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Everytime I read Blinken I think of Robinhood: Men In Tights
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