Shame on our lawmakers

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Shame on our lawmakers

When I was a Tokyo correspondent in 2014, NHK Chairman Katsuo Momii was called to the Lower House frequently. In the first news conference upon inauguration, he said, “Comfort women could be found in any nation that was at war,” claiming that nations like France and Germany had such system and asking why the Netherlands still has brothels.

Since the ludicrous remark, he was called to the Diet by the opposition party often. Momii continued to make outrageous remarks. It was painful to watch the live broadcasting of his appearances. What bothered me as much as his distorted mind set and shameless remarks was his rude attitude. The chairman of Japan’s public television did not stand straight, swaggered, and avoided the eyes of the lawmaker asking questions. He exchanged memos with his aide and repeatedly said, “What was the question? Can you say it again?”

Japanese media called him “Abe Shinzo’s clumsy storm trooper.” He made me doubt whether Japan really is a country of courtesy that values consideration over academic performance at school. Japanese friends said that they were embarrassed by Momii’s rudeness, putting his philosophy or convictions aside.

In the 2015 parliamentary audit, the man boasted overwhelming presence by acting like a “flawless man” and branding the scarlet letter of “communist” on others. The chairman of the Foundation of Broadcast Culture emerged as a “super star” among far-rightists. While it is hard to agree with his philosophy, his attitude was even more upsetting. When lawmakers asked a question, he often said, “Do I need to answer this?” He said, “If I had been yelling like you, I would be called a murderous prosecutor.”

According to a ruling party lawmaker, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone he had put an “X” mark. Can the posts of chairman of the Foundation of Broadcast Culture and the chairman of Japan’s NHK be occupied by someone who is so ignorant in communication and personal relationships?

The last parliamentary inspection of the 19th National Assembly became a comedy of abnormality and boringness because they had all forgotten what the basics are. Heads of government agencies and witnesses were called in and made to wait all day, and lawmakers did not ask a single question. An opposition lawmaker questioned on the drug case of ruling party chairman’s son-in-law at the audit of the Constitutional Court.

Many lawmakers and aides attempted under-the-table deals regarding selection of witnesses. A witness refused to report due to illness but strode around in suits. The level of the citizens is the level of the assembly, and the level of politics is the level of the nation. So embarrassment is for all of us by condemning these people for forgetting the basics.

The author is a deputy political and international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 14, Page 34

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