Sep 4, 2008

What Is Aso Like? What is his attitude to shrine visits?

this summary from Bloomberg helps a little:

The son of a wealthy cement magnate with ties to the Imperial family, Aso has strived to appeal to common people. In August 2007, he wrote an ode to the country's geek innovations in an essay entitled ``Manga'' -- Japanese comic books -- that appeared on his Web site.
``We didn't develop manga, karaoke and conveyor-belt sushi because we wanted approval from overseas,'' Aso wrote. ``We simply like it, and if we become geeks and put all efforts into creating, we'll win appeal throughout the world.''
This common touch belies his pedigree. Aso is the grandson of former Prime Minister
Shigeru Yoshida, the son-in-law of another former prime minister, Zenko Suzuki, and the great-great- grandson of Toshimichi Okubo, one of the founders of the modern Japanese state. He was a member of Japan's 1976 Olympic clay- pigeon shooting team and studied economics at Stanford University in California and the London School of Economics. His sister is married to a cousin of Emperor Akihito.
`Foot in His Mouth'
He has held five cabinet positions, serving twice as foreign minister. He also has made several controversial statements, including praising Japan's 50-year colonization of Taiwan until 1945 and saying he wanted Japan to be a country where ``rich Jews'' would want to live. In 2006, he called for the emperor to visit
Yasukuni Shrine, which is seen in Asia as a symbol of Japan's military aggression in the first part of the 20th century.
``He's a very serious foreign policy thinker in spite of his `manga' image,'' said
Michael Green, head of the Japan program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and former senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council. ``But every so often he puts his foot in his mouth.''
Green, who has known him for 20 years, says Aso ``must mobilize public support if he's going to break out of the stagnant mold'' of Abe and Fukuda.