Wednesday, August 12, 2009


On Sunday, August 9th at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Victims Memorial Peace Prayer commemorating the 64th anniversary of that city's atomic bombing, Prime Minister Taro Aso misspoke.

Nothing unusual, for him, but alarming to everyone else. Reading his speech, Aso said that the bombing left salt peter that can’t be healed! He misread the kanji for "wounds/scars" [kizuato] as "salt peter" [shoseki].

Yikes! Most Japanese simply dismissed Aso as a dimwit with poor language skills. However, one wonders where was his staff? In Washington, once you know your "great man" is not the sharpest tack in the box, you learn to compensate for him. Why didn't someone use hiragana to "spell out" his speech for him?

But the issue here is more than a mere nervous reader or poor staffing. As Mizuho Fukushima, president of the Social Democratic Party, fumed "I don't think it is appropriate to read (the word) in the wrong way on a day of prayer, when everybody in Nagasaki is feeling pain."

That is a very nice way of saying, "what sort of self-absorbed cretin has to read a speech that is at the heart of modern Japan's identity and sensibilities"!

One who feels little in his heart for anyone other than himself, is the answer. One who does not apologize, thank, appreciate, or consider. No get well cards from this guy.

Yep, the LDP is going to lose on August 30th.


  1. Aso is self admittedly an idiot when it comes to reading kanji. How he ever got to be PM is beyond me. He is too arrogant to let his mistakes bother him. Biden (US VP) can say some pretty stupid things too but they are not reading mistakes just poorly chosen words. Let's hope Hatoyama's speaking skills and leading ability are better than Aso's.

  2. I'm gonna miss Aso.

    Glad to see you're back to blogging, Madam Chairwoman.

  3. Thank you Our Man. Slowly, ever so slowly. I am not the best of patients and heal very slowly, but being able to walk might be worth it. Thank you too for continuing to keep me amused.

  4. This nitpick doesn't change the point of your post, but I don't think that he read it as 硝石 (Salt-petre ). It is more likely that he misread it as the homophone 証跡 (proof, evidence). The second character is the same as in "kizu-ato" and so a much more likely mistake.

  5. Dear Anon,
    Thank you. I have been hoping that someone who is a linguist or who actually heard the speech would write in and tell me exactly what he said.
    I very much appreciate your post. And yes, it does not detract from the over all message that the pain of Nagasaki should be part of his human and political soul.
    And I appreciate your reading my blog; it is lonely endeavor.

  6. Thankyou for what you write. It is always interesting to read your blog and get a different view of the "experts" on Japan.
    I hope you are improving.

    It seems I overthought my correction. The onyomi for kizuato is shouseki. It is never read that way, but that makes his mistake comprehensible at the least. So it's not that he can't read Kanji, it's just that he can't pronounce them. At least in this case.
    Although I can't scoff that much.

  7. Dear Anon,

    Thank you again. I write because I am broken hearted.
    It has been difficult to write this week, as i have not been well and it is difficult to focus for too long.


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