JK asks what happens to scandalized Japanese politicians


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Hi Blog.  Good question from cyberspace, if anyone can help answer it:

Hi Debito: Say, I’d like to ask a question — what becomes of ‘radioactive’ (i.e. scandal-ridden) ministers in Japan?

For example, take former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Ota and his partner in crime former Administrative Vice Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Toshiro Shirasu — in a country like Japan, knowingly using tainted rice for consumer products is, in my view, tantamount to deficating in an onsen, and since the tainted rice drama occurred on their watch, these two guys have, ironically enough, been tainted themselves by the whole affair. Unless I am grossly mistaken, they can never hope to hold government office again. In this case where do they go? Do they quit government and open a ramen or udon shop? Since they’re radioactive, I am willing to wager that they can’t (or won’t) find meaningful employment, so do they take menial jobs instead? Do they leave the country when nobody’s looking? Do they retire for life? If so, where? Tokyo? Do they have enough yen to live there, or do they go to the countryside?

In the case of former Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Nariaki Nakayama, his crime was putting his foot in his mouth too many times, so I don’t see suicide in his future — in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day he makes a return to government. But still, where do the likes of him go?

At any rate, to my knowledge, unless ministers commit suicide, the media never follows-up on them once they resign.

Hey, I’ve got an idea — track these guys via a dead pool on debito.org! It’s morbid, but it would sure as hell boost hits to the website! 🙂  Best Regards, -JK


It’s a good question, and I only answered JK a smidge:


Hi JK.   My theory is they just keep a low profile (but stay in govt).  All you have to do to qualify for a former politician’s pension in this country is be re-elected twice (i.e. serve three terms).  Then you’re set for life with a little something.  But you have to wait until 65 before you can collect.  No problem with most in this gerontocracy.  Anyway, for the most part, they lead quiet and ignored lives, but retain political power.  But let’s pose that to the blog. 


I’m thinking people like Fukuoka Dietmember Yamasaki Taku, tainted with sexual harassment charges yet reelected two years later.  Or Hokkaido Dietmember Suzuki Muneo, twice convicted of taking bribes yet still re-elected to the Diet.  Or “Knock” Yokoyama, former dietmember and Governor of Osaka, convicted with a suspended sentence of groping a woman and forced to resign his office (never to return to politics).  Etc.

So, let’s pose it to everyone.  What do you know about the elephant’s, er, politician’s graveyard in Japan?  Try to provide sources if possible.  Thanks.  Debito in Sapporo

4 comments on “JK asks what happens to scandalized Japanese politicians

  • what really gets me is that by resigning they still get to keep their pensions. and yes, most do come back to politics when the stink wears off. if not that, then amakudari.

  • Let’s name and shame. It seeems that there is a lot of info about the bad politicians in this country but it is refined to the ‘ura’ press. All the mags will print the scandalous allegations about anyone but most of the Japanese accept that most people in power have some kind of ‘ura’ but don’t really think much more about it. Realistically who is going to report about the real uniformed decisions of this country’s politicians? The newspapers won’t – they are all company/politically controlled – it really needs an independant list of every politicians wrongdoing and everthing they’ve done since. Japanese politicians really do think they are above everyone – and they do it infront of the country numerous times – name them and shame them! The country can only get better from getting those out who are on ly there for their own good

  • Check out Robert Whiting’s book “Tokyo Underworld” for a few other scattered examples of disgraced politicos and their post-scandal lives in obscurity. Seems like quite a few of them claim “poor health” and then just check into private hospital rooms until the stink over them dies down. Some of them, however, like Kakuei Tanaka, manage to avoid any real hard time or shame by pandering to the electorate and constantly being re-elected despite the scandal.


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