The end is near for Naoto Kan, 94th Prime Minister of Japan. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Kan’s for more than a decade, patiently waiting for him to become Prime Minister so I could make KHAAAAN! jokes (warning, sound will play). Mr. Kan tried hard to be a good leader for Japan, especially through the terrible disasters of March, but like every other Japanese PM (with the exception of Junichiro “George Washington Hair” Koizumi), public support for his cabinet eventually fell below the symbolic 20% point, forcing a change in leadership. Part of the problem seems to be the Japanese tradition of deru kui wa utareru*, translated as “the standing nail is driven,” meaning that anyone who stands out for any reason, even as a duly elected leader, will suddenly find themselves the target of opposition from all sides. Japanese people seem unable to rally behind a leader and support them for any length of time, even during a period of great national trial. This is one reason why Mr. Kan is the 13th Japanese Prime Minister to hold office in the 20 years I’ve been in Japan, a period that has seen only four leaders in the U.K.
* In accordance with the Treaty of San Francisco, I’m required by law to write about this phrase at least once a year or I lose my Japan Blogger’s license. It’s pronounced “de-roo koo-EE wa oo-TAH-re-roo.”
I will be sorry to see Mr. Kan go.