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Transparency Japanese style: Aso sorry

Recipients of the Cabinet email magazine, a weekly bulletin from the office of the Japanese prime minister, have long been used to the publication’s conversational, pared-down and occasionally even cryptic style, which has been suspiciously consistent despite the revolving-door policy operated in the office over the past two years. Yet the message dated July 23 that began with news of heavy rain in Yamaguchi prefecture found the magazine in unusually gloomy, introspective voice.

With his popularity rating falling below 20%, prime minister Taro Aso dissolved parliament on July 21; media reports and polls predict an end to the LDP’s 50 years of more-or-less uninterrupted rule. During his own brief period in power, Aso says in the email: "Careless remarks I have made caused mistrust among the public and damaged its confidence in politics. I have reflected deeply on this situation. I will humbly look back upon this, and in reflection, I will fulfil my responsibilities, placing importance on the thoughts of the people." With the election looming, Aso makes three pledges: to revive the economy, to "bring about a society that brings peace of mind to its members" (which also turns out to mean reviving the economy), and to take responsibility should pledges one and two not be fulfilled.

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