Japan's FinMin Learns of 'Drinking' on the Job

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 2/17/2009 10:42:00 AM

The list of persons gaining notoriety for allegedly drinking on the job grows longer. Infamous folks who have done so include the Exxon Valdez's Captain Hazelwood, who ran his supertanker aground in Alaska, causing one of the largest oil spills in maritime history in pristine northern hinterlands. Being one of those cynical academics, I've always thought of international gatherings as fine opportunities to waste taxpayer money, party hard, score with diplomatic groupies, and of course--get drunk. It has always seemed to me that G8 meetings are A-1, top of the heap junkets of the first wafer. In 2007, France's nefarious Nicolas Sarkozy appeared quite tipsy at a G8 press conference. Luckily for him, the press did no jump on him too much for this as you almost expect this sort of behavior from a French PM, let alone Sarko.

Unforunately, Japan's FinMin Shoichi Nakagawa, is learning that the Japanese are not as forgiving of looking drunk on the job at a G8 gig. See the clip above (are those two bottles' worth of alcoholic drinks in front of him?) The current LDP Prime Minister Taro Aso is in eminent danger of being sacked given his abysmal approval ratings, and this latest setback of Nakagawa resigning over this incident does not help him. Understandably, the Japanese are not in a very forgiving mood right now for "drunken" behavior from its FinMin on the world stage as Nippon's economy shrinks dramatically and exports shrivel. While Nakagawa has used the excuse of being jetlagged and under medication, its the media impression that counts in today's 24-hour news cycle.

Aso's somewhat more popular predecessor Junichiro Koizumi has already attacked the current PM's criticism of the postal service's privatization. In the meantime, Aso has asked his Economic Minister Kaoru Yosano to also handle the Finance Minister role. Certainly, these are interesting times for Japan--interesting enough to consider the DPJ ascending into power in relatively short order. There is a good reason why Missus Clinton is meeting with the DPJ leader Ozawa Ichiro on her swing through Japan. Now, if you'll excuse me, I shall hunt down a bottle of Mumm--the official champagne of Formula One. The drunken master style has many adherents and I intend to find out why [cue the overture from Bizet's Carmen.]