「 I mean, Murata-san, what do you expect from the nobility? They’re people composed of vested interests, so will you destroy them? 」
I asked the former cultural celebrity and current prefectural governor, Murata Hideo
「 W-Well, you see 」
Governor Murata’s making a face that says “this is a problem,” and I didn’t let that pass.
「 No, no, it’s not our intention to scrap and build all of the social systems that existed until now. It’s normal to leave the good ones 」
「 So, who decides which are the good ones to keep? 」
I push further.
「 Well, that’s of course for the citizens to decide. Isn’t that obvious? I mean, you can ask the people for their judgment…if you prefer, we can use a national referendum. But, if we hold such votes every time, we won’t be able to have speedy politics. Therefore, it’s up to the politicians elected by the people to make a fair judgment 」
Governor Murata’s laying down his debate with such energy.
「 Nono, you should know that too, right? How many instructions I assembled so I get chosen as the governor. I’m the governor of the prefecture, elected by the local voters, thus, the people trust me. Therefore, the judgment of the people in the prefecture is equal to the judgment I and my allies make. You should know that since you learned the Japanese electoral system in your school, right? If you don’t understand, then it’s your school teacher’s negligence! 」
He sure is good at derailing the conversation.
Governor Murata looked away from me and back to Yazawa-san.
「 I’m now being directed by the people to reform the prefecture. As Yazawa-san knows, it’s making a tremendous effect! Our “Heisei Political Breakthrough reform,” is highly praised by the media as well! Now, I want to convey this reform to the national government 」
He’s appealing with sparkling eyes.
「 Well, I sure am a man of honesty and passion, so I might not be able to speak well so I’m sorry for that, but, I want you to understand my passion for reforming Japan! Please give me the chance to appeal our political party to Kouzuki-san directly! Right?! 」
Governor Murata bows his head.
「 Is that it? 」
Yazawa-san said coldly.
「 Huh? 」
Murata looked up.
「 It’s politician’s job to bow their heads. I’ve been working next to Kouzuki Kakka’s side for some time now so I’ve seen politicians bow so many times before 」
Yeah, a lot of politicians do come to Jii-chan.
Asking for funds, connection, or promotion.
They all bow their heads to Jii-chan.
「 Murata-san came from television work to politician, so you perhaps don’t know. Hence, it can’t be helped that you don’t know how politicians act, but… 」
Yazawa-san speaks to governor Murata, laughing scornfully.
「 Even if you treat us as your supporter and patron, then it won’t work on us 」
「 Nono, that’s not true! I’m just trying to get you to understand my passion, see? Isn’t that kind of speaking mocking me as a prefectural governor, a head of a local government 」
Oh, this time he’s trying to reverse the situation.
「 It’s up to you to decide what you want to believe with what I said. I have no idea why you felt that way though 」
「 Sensei, please calm down 」
The secretary who’s waiting at the door comes to governor Murata’s side.
「 Yes, yes, I know. I know 」
Governor Murata told his secretary, then…
「 So what is it? Does Yazawa-san want me to prostrate on my knees? To crawl on the floor and rub my forehead on the ground to gain Kouzuki-san’s support in our activities? Is that what you want to say, right?!
Look, he’s even angrier than before.
What’s with this guy?
「 What do you think? 」
Yazawa-san looked at me.
「 I don’t even understand why it has come to that. Murata-san, what’s the point in groveling to the ground? 」
「 Yazawa-san didn’t want you to prostrate yourself, and besides, if Murata-san were to kneel, will that solve anything? That’s what I don’t understand 」
I’m sorry to say but just because Murata-san kneeled doesn’t mean that Jii-chan will meet you, or respond to your requests.
「 I mean, you said that because I didn’t bow my head low enough, haven’t you? 」
「 S-Sensei! 」
The secretary desperately calms down the governor.
「 Then that’s the same as demanding me, the governor who received the trust of the people in my prefecture, to bow with my hands on the floor?! 」
「 I don’t think that’s it 」
「 Murata-san, you can’t just kneel on the ground. I mean, you have no intention of bowing your head for real, you’re just doing it for the sake of it, don’t you? 」
「 What did you say? 」
「 No, it’s kind of obvious. There’s no heart to it. After all, you have no intention of bowing down your head to the Kouzuki house, don’t you? You think that you’re lucky to use their money and connections, but the truth is, you hate the lumps of vested interests, like the Kouzuki house, don’t you? 」
「 I-I didn’t say anything like that! It’s just your selfish speculations! 」
He says in a panic.
「 But, look. I’m the one who will be telling Jii-chan whether Murata-san’s trustworthy or not 」
「 So please stop making crazy reports based on speculation! 」
「 Wrong. Isn’t it Murata-san’s job to speak in a way that won’t cause me to make such weird speculations? 」
「 I don’t know much about politicians, but, let’s be honest, Murata-san came here to borrow Jii-chan’s money, right? Oh wait, you said that you want support so it’s not borrowing, but instead, you’re asking for money 」
「 Hey! You! 」
「 And it’s not just money, you’re also asking for Jii-chan…I mean, Kouzuki house’s influence and authority to support you, right? 」
I summarize the conversation into something even I could understand.
「 I think that’s what’s Yazawa-san’s talking about, “what’s with the attitude of someone who came to ask for something” 」
「 Y-You’re rude! You’re extremely rude! I’m the governor! And I’m also the man who’ll represent a political party, although it hasn’t started yet 」
「 So what? 」
「 If it’s Kouzuki-san, the representative of the Kouzuki house, then he has a much higher status than me, a power that I cannot match, so if Kouzuki-san says something, I’ll do anything, even if it means going down to my knees or eating spaghetti out of my nose! But you’re just a student! Even Yazawa-san is just a subordinate of Kouzuki-san, he’s not Kouzuki-san himself!! 」
「 Normally, you’re just a citizen, you’re not even allowed to talk to a governor like me! What’s with this?! I don’t care if you’re a relative of the Kouzuki house or not but you’re just a student, you’re too rude to me! 」
「 Apologize to Murata-sensei. It’s for the better 」
The secretary told me.
「 Yazawa-san. It seems like Murata-san doesn’t want Jii-chan’s assistance 」
I told Yazawa-san.
「 Seems like that. Well then, if you’d excuse us, Murata-sensei 」
Yazawa-san stood up right away.
「 Wait a second!!! 」
Governor Murata shouted.
「 Hey! Wait!! Where are you going in this narrow country! 」
「 We’re not going anywhere. There’s no need to talk any further, and so we’ll have to ask Murata-san to leave
「 After all, from everything I heard from Murata-san’s talk, I don’t think Jii-chan should meet him. Not likely 」
I said it flatly.
「 Why did you decide so? 」
Yazawa-san asks me.
This is the test.
I have to verbalize what my impressions are clearly and comprehensively.
「 Murata-san wants to destroy the vested interests, to scrap and build the current Japan social system, but he never talked about anything specific that he wants to do 」
「 T-That’s because I was about to! 」
Governor Murata said, but…
「 Look, sorry but Jii-chan and the Kouzuki house isn’t a moneylender nor a charity man 」
「 If you want something done, then you should first say that “I have this goal, and to achieve this, I need this, and so I want your support,” right? Taking such an incomprehensible attitude and putting on such an air of importance will only bring poor impressions on the other party 」
「 Murata-san said that Japan will collapse if things continue, but you don’t even understand what’s going on or why Japan would be destroyed, nor Murata-san did plan anything to prevent that destruction 」
「 I said I’m just about to explain it! I mean, don’t you also think that Japan’s in jeopardy if things continue as they are, don’t you? If you don’t think so, then you don’t understand anything about society at all! 」
Governor Murata said.
「 You should be more interested in politics! All conscious young people should be aware of the current crisis! 」
「 No thanks. I’m already busy with things I have to do every day 」
「 This is what I’m talking about! People like you who have no sense of urgency will destroy Japan!! 」
Oh, what do I do with this guy?
I can’t even talk normally to him.
「 Its young people like you who don’t know what’s going on should listen to our political arguments, you don’t know anything! 」
Yazawa-san smiled wryly.
「 But, as it stands, you look like a politician who lacks explanatory skills to explain his philosophy to high school students 」
「 What? 」
「 Our conversation’s been recorded by the cameras. If Kouzuki Kakka were to see this, then I don’t think he would support Murata-san personally, or politically 」
「 R-Recording? This was recorded? 」
「 Is there a problem? 」
Yazawa-san looked at the clock.
「 I’ll give you five more minutes, explain to this high school student in simple terms what kind of politics do you want to pursue 」
Oh, so that’s why Jii-chan brought me here.
If a politician can’t make me understand his views, he’s not worth helping.
「 Then, I’ll listen for five minutes. What’s the selling point of the political party you’re about to launch, Murata-san? 」
「 Selling point? 」
「 What I mean is; what makes you think that you’re better than the existing ones? 」
「 Well, we have a sense of urgency about a dying Japan… 」
「 I don’t need those non-specific answers 」
「 What sense us apart from the existing parties is that we have a business sense! 」
The secretary opens his mouth on behalf of governor Murata.
「 Before running for governor, Murata-sensei was an international political commentator who appeared on TV and in magazines. He’s the representative of Murata politics and economics private school, and is a businessman who holds paid email newsletters, lectures, and seminars all over Japan 」
Oh, I see.
「 More than half of the members of Diet who are going to launch a new party together with Murata-sensei has experience in business management
「 T-That’s right. Hayashi-kun’s started a major yakiniku chain. Kaneda-kun started a successful pachinko parlor. Hirabayashi-kun who hit the jackpot with his mobile game company
Governor Murata said.
「 It’s mostly entrepreneurs who started a company on their own and succeeded in developing their business, and managers who inherited and advanced their parent’s business 」
「 So, what good can come from a political party with such people? 」
「 You should know that right? Entrepreneurs are insightful and quick-witted. You see, if you let the bureaucrats in the office take care of things, they decide too slow! Politics without a sense of speed will not be able to cope with the 21st century! In my opinion, the future of Japanese politics should be run by those who have experience in private management. I mean, that’s how everyone thinks 」
Oh look, he’s gone back to being talkative.
Governor Murata sure talks a lot when he gets carried away.
「 In the 20th century, private Japanese businessmen traveled around the world to sell Japanese products, which helped develop post-war Japan. The politicians and bureaucrats did nothing but drag the private sector down. Therefore, in the 21st century, capable people who have experience in managing companies in the private sector, and have developed their own companies to a great extent should become politicians and take control of the nation! That’s the obvious answer for anyone who thinks! 」
I wonder about that?
「 But you see, in the private sector, a single decision from the top management can bring down the whole company! It’s not a lukewarm world like the bureaucracy where you can waste hundreds of millions of yen and not lose your job. People who have fought and won in the tough economic world can be trusted to run the country’s politics with more confidence! Successful entrepreneurs are heroes! All of them! If people like them don’t rise to the world of politics, then Japan will be destroyed!! 」
Does this guy want to save Japan or crash it down?
It’s getting harder to understand.
「 In fact, in my prefecture. Well, you should already know this since it’s all over the news, but more and more people from the private sector are brought to the city hall. To rebuild the sodden government officials, more managers from top facilities are recruited to the public, and some facilities outsourced their operations to the private sector. Yes, of course, we’ve had reports of improvements in all of the operations! 」
Governor Murata said.
「 Don’t you mean the report you produced? 」
「 I know that it’s been reported to the press that some of the facilities that were headed by private groups had problems and some of them already left 」
「 No, some of them just happened to be from the private sector, and most of them have been successful in improving the services of the facilities, changing the mindset of the workers there! It’s been a great success! Media and professors from various universities have already supported my reform and acknowledged my success! 」
Governor Murata rebutted.
「 As expected, it can’t be always bureaucrats all the time. People who know the intensity of the private sector has to be the ones guiding on top 」
「 That’s why I want to spread the reforms I’m doing in the prefecture to the national! Aggressive recruitment of the private department! Rather, I want all the department heads and above in the ministries to be people with proven track records in the private sector! It’s the bureaucracy that’s undermining this country! We want to aggressively introduce the blood of the private sector into the nation!! 」
「 I get it. So it’s completely broken 」
Yep, no good.
「 Yes, that’s right! We can’t leave it to the bureaucrats at all! 」
「 That’s not what I meant. I was talking about your way of thinking, Murata-san 」
「 Huh? 」
Murata looked at me with a surprised face.
「 No, I think that your reform is only working because it’s only in one local province, but… 」
「 No, it’s not as successful as Governor Murata says it is. The public thinks it’s working because governor Murata repeatedly called the media to show that it’s succeeding, that it’s improving. But if you check the minor details, you’ll see that his debt is increasing, and the policy plans have failed and are in debt. It’s already criticized by media and researchers everywhere 」
Yazawa-san told me.
「 No, that’s not it! Wait! Why are you insisting that it’s bad! I’m still in the middle of the reform! Even if you evaluate it halfway… 」
「 Aren’t you evaluating yourself as successful halfway? 」
「 Yes! My reforms are highly appreciated! 」
Meaning, there’s a certain amount of media and researchers who trust what governor Murata’s saying.
On the other hand, there’s also what Yazawa-san said, that there are critical media and researchers.
Either way, it isn’t as successful as governor Murata says it is.
「 I guess the part where they talk about the bureaucracy routine has become relaxed 」
「 That doesn’t mean that private companies are all strict and decent places to work either 」
I think it’s too much to assume that people with more experience in the private sector are more competent than government officials.
「 Well, it can’t be helped, Murata-san’s a former cultural entertainer after all 」
Yazawa-san said with a sigh.
Oh, governor Murata says that he runs his own company, but…
The truth is, he doesn’t have any experience working in the private sector.
「 W-What? 」
「 Private companies vary greatly in size, and type of business don’t they? 」
「 Yes, some huge companies have departments that are even more lukewarm and unproductive than the bureaucrats 」
「 Also, private companies and government offices are fundamentally different things 」
「 Can you explain? 」
Yazawa-san tells me.
「 Yes. In private companies, they can do as many drastic things as they want at the discretion of the management. That’s what Murata-san’s explaining as speed. But on the other hand, when they fail, they turn bankrupt 」
I’m already starting to study management to open the bakery with Katsuko-nee.
「 It’s bankruptcy. A manager’s miscalculation risks the company collapsing. Nobody will help them 」
「 But that’s not how the government works. If you make a bold decision that ends up with huge debt as a result. The government won’t be the one under, but the citizens 」
「 There are already cities that’ve gone bankrupt as a result of loose management. The results are awful, higher taxes while the resident services are declining 」
「 That’s why bureaucracy is not a place to make mistakes in decisions. Therefore, they’re careful, taking time before they make a decision 」
「 That’s how the government works so it’s inevitable, it’s different from the private sector 」
「 In bureaucracy, people with the same mindset as those in the private sector are sent in through open recruitment and the higher-ups order them to do this, do that, at the same speed in the private sector…that’ll cause confusion in place 」
「 Just like what’s happening in your prefecture, putting into action whenever you come up with a plan on the spur of the moment can fail, and cause tens of millions of debt in just one case 」
Governor Murata’s listening to our conversation with a mouth opened wide.
「 But because of the size of the prefecture, I don’t think it has reached the point of collapse yet. However, if Murata-san expands that to a national scale 」
「 Since the size of the budget will be different. It will be terrible 」
「 I don’t think that bureaucracy is great either, but… 」
I just had a war with some bureaucrats recently.
「 But, I don’t think that they’re people you can make fun of 」
They’re familiar with running the nation as a business.
「 And so, Murata-san’s starting a political party with entrepreneurs, but… 」
「 Does running a chain of food stores, or a pachinko parlor, or making mobile games add anything to being a politician? 」
「 No, it’s because they made their companies and succeeded! They’ve trained their employees and gone through the trials and tribulations of running a business 」
I stopped governor Murata from speaking.
「 That’s amazing, yes. But, their company succeeded in that type of industry. Right? 」
I looked at governor Murata in the eye and said.
「 There’s no overlap in what they need to do as a politician, is there? 」
「 Why? 」
「 What I mean is, a person who succeeded in bakery business can’t just start a shipbuilding company next 」
「 It has the same significance in company management, but the substance is different, see? 」
「 Substance? 」
Governor Murata’s dumbfounded.
「 Bakeries have daily income. Daily production, daily profit. However, if you keep selling only cheap food, your daily profit will be lacking. Your employees will be limited. You don’t need that many experts in bread baking. You’ll have to hire some part-time workers just to sell the products, but… 」
「 But in the shipbuilding business, money doesn’t come in every day, see? It takes months to build a ship, and that’s when the money comes in one big payment. And so, you need enough money in your budget to pay the wage and materials for the workers for the months until you get paid. Your employees are all professionals and require a high level of technical skills 」
「 The scopes of the companies are different. Their connection to banks too 」
「 Well then, let’s say Murata-san, that you’re a man who owned a small bakery, and you became successful because the pastries are delicious. Since you’re a successful manager, do you think that you can run a shipbuilding company as well? 」
「 There’s no way I can 」
Governor Murata said. Then I;
「 Yes, if you understand that running a bakery is different from running a shipbuilding company, then you’ll be able to learn from scratch and do well 」
Giving instructions to the part-time bakery ladies, and…
Dealing with the engineers at the shipyard should be completely different.
「 If I manage the shipbuilding company, with the same know-how on the bakery, far from that, if I were to aggressively apply what I know and gained from the bakery to the shipbuilding company, the company would be a mess 」
「 It’s the same with food chains and national politics. Even the most amazing chain store is on a different scale than a national operation. The way you instruct part-time workers in a store can’t be useful in giving instructions to the bureaucrats of the state. The scale and industry are different 」
「 While at it, the success of running a business has a strong element of luck 」
「 It could be that the company you run just happens to fit the needs of the era. Then, times change. Your current success may not last forever 」
「 Some companies that were strong in the ’80s, like consumer electronics manufacturers, and major distributors such as supermarkets are all swallowed up by others and are no longer around. They’re a company whose founder family was hailed as the darlings of the times 」
「 It could be a food chain, pachinko parlor, or mobile game company. They can start their own business, or inherit a business from their parents and become successful. Congratulations to them. But, that success is already in the past. A person who succeeds once is not necessarily going to succeed again. And it’s shallow to think that you can move the politics of a country in the future based on past success 」
Governor Murata looked down.
「 If you’re serious about being a politician, then show more enthusiasm. Realize that you’re only half of a politician. If you keep dragging your past success, you’ll be forever in your food chain, pachinko chain, or mobile game business. You’ll never become a politician 」
Then, he told governor Murata;
「 How long are you going to stay as a cultural entertainer? 」