The LDP presidential race is now in full swing. Taro Kono, the 58-year-old minister in charge of administrative reform, was considered to be the main contender. The mood seems to be changing somewhat, but I would like to take this opportunity to look back on his past with some of his “treasured photos.
The photo above is a shot of my father, Yohei Kono, 84, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, and his family when they went to vote in the 1986 election. His grandfather, former Agriculture Minister Ichiro Kono (d. 67), and Yohei were among the most powerful men in politics, but fell just short of becoming prime minister. Mr. Kono has turned the final corner in the race to redeem himself. However, Kono is not a mere elite hereditary senator. He has been ridiculed as an “eccentric” within the party. Akiko Azumi, a political journalist, tells us.
“Mr. Kono’s English ability is the best in politics. When he was in junior high and high school at Keio University, he received A grades all the time. He dropped out of Keio University after only two months because he decided, ‘If I’m going to study English, I should do it while I’m young. In 1984, while studying in Poland during the Cold War, he met with Lech Walesa, 77, the chairman of Solidarity, a self-managed labor union that was leading the pro-democracy movement. However, when he left Mr. Walesa’s house, he was arrested by the police for not carrying his passport, and was put in jail until the next morning.
Mr. Kono was elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in 1996. The third photo shows him celebrating his election with his wife, Kaoru (56), and supporters, while the fourth photo shows him appearing in the Diet in 2005 in an eccentric fashion, tying his tie over his shirt collar. The fourth photo shows him at the Diet in 2005, wearing a tie over his shirt collar. Mr. Azumi continues.
“In 2010, when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power, the Government Revitalization Unit (GRU) carried out a ‘business sorting’ project that became a boom. But in fact, Mr. Kono had already launched a similar initiative called the Project Team for Eliminating Waste in 2008. It was not taken seriously by the LDP, which did not want to get into trouble with Kasumigaseki, but when the DPJ took over the government, the budgets of the projects that Kono complained about as wasteful were actually cut.
Journalist Tetsuo Suzuki also said.
“I started my blog, Gomame no Teashiri, in 1998. From that time on, I was seriously discussing with my fellow Diet members how to connect the Internet with political activities, saying, ‘The Internet is the future. Other politicians laughed at him, but I think he is confident that he can be a reformer because he has been an eccentric.
Now, the results will be out soon. I wonder what will happen.
“From the October 8, 2021 issue of FRIDAY
Photo by： Takeshi Kinugawa, Kyodo News, Jiji Press, Afro