|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Nation's politicians can turn to manga for diplomatic dope 2006,03,08
Spa! 3/14 By Ryann Connell
There's a rumor floating around that Foreign Minister Taro Aso -- whose frequent verbal blunders about international relations have some saying he has the gift of the gaffe -- really learned his ambassadorial skills through "Golgo 13," a semi-fictional manga devoted to Japan's relations with other countries, according to Spa! (3/14).
Of course, the vast majority of manga in Japan are fictional and intended only as entertainment.
As such, the whispers that cartoons gave Aso his decidedly undiplomatic diplomatic skills -- he has been widely criticized overseas, especially in a scathing New York Times editorial that admonished the way he handles ties with other Asian countries -- have been dismissed as highly unlikely.
Nonetheless, some of Japan's top political brains say the nation's politicians could do worse than peruse manga for ideas, provided they pick the right ones.
"Hyoden no Torakutaa (The Hyoden Tractor, but the name can also be read to mean the tractor that collects votes) tells the story of Gorin Kasai, a Diet member's secretary. Gorin's not the type that can be hated and it tells stories of what he does to get his boss votes," political commentator Harumi Arima tells Spa!
"It gets into things like what secretaries have to do to snare block votes, how they keep their rivals from getting them and uses stories to explain difficult topics, like the time Gorin is trying to get the support of a women's organization and goes on a ribald hot spring trip with them."
Arima says politicians can use manga, too, as '80s prime ministers Yasuhiro Nakasone and Noboru Takeshita did with their biographical manga, "Ya-Chan's" and "Wakaki no Chosen," respectively.
Japanese Socialist Party stalwart Kiyomi Tsujimura did the same to emphasize her "proletarian" ways.
"It shows her being stopped at the Diet entrance because she's carrying a rucksack (instead of a briefcase), and chowing down on a 'lunchtime special' in a cafeteria while she proudly boasts, 'I'm one of the little people's politicians. I know what the people feel like,'" Arima says.
"Jomu Kosaku Shima (Kosaku Shima - Managing Director)," which tells of the travails of a typical Japanese salaryman, is the pick for lawmakers to learn about life, according to political think-tank operator Takuro Morinaga.
"This manga gives an extremely good depiction of the business world's frontlines and you can read it without it feeling weird. I've been operating a think-tank all these years and think manga artist Kenshi Hirogane has come up with content at the same level as I'm used to dealing with," Morinaga tells Spa!
"Take the way he deals with Japanese companies going to China to do business and how often they end up getting done over. That's what really happens. Look at the magazines and they only ever report about companies making a bundle in China. They're the lucky ones. As far as I'm concerned, Hirogane really tells it like it is." It's the same sort of gritty reality depicted in "Naniwa Kinyumichi (Osaka Finance)" that appeals to marketing analyst Ferdinand Yamaguchi.
"Japan's financial world has its banking and brokerages, but it also has the interesting sector of consumer finance. 'Naniwa Kinyumichi' is a long-running manga that really looks into this. It shows how dangerous it can be to borrow from this shady sector, teaches people what to do with their money and is a must-read for businessmen," Yamaguchi tells Spa!, before adding that Foreign Minister Aso may not have been too far wrong if he did take the odd glance at "Golgo 13".
"It's recently taken up the issue of Official Development Assistance and tells in manga form how nearly all the money Japan spends on ODA ends up coming back into Japan. It's been running continuously since 1969, which was smack-bang in the middle of the Cold War. It'd be a great read to start from recent issues and go back. And you'd learn a hell of a lot."
(By Ryann Connell)
March 8, 2006