Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Return to Sender 

A ruling party MP who once headed Japan's world trade negotiations hanged himself overnight, prompting speculation he was troubled after switching sides in a high-stakes vote on the post office.

Yoji Nagaoka, 54, a former elite bureaucrat who was in his second term in parliament, committed suicide at his home in Tokyo, a police official said.

Nagaoka was part of a faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) opposed to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his plan to break up the post office. But he voted in favour of the reforms when they passed the 480 member lower house by a mere five votes on July 5.

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, quoting unnamed people close to Nagaoka, said he had been troubled over what side to take on postal reform.

Koizumi's opponents immediately said the LDP had put too much pressure on MPs over postal reform. Koizumi has threatened a new election if the proposal fails in the upper house which is due to vote by August 13.
Imagine if American politicians were topping themselves over such things; the steps of the Capitol Hill would be slippery with blood and there would hardly be a lamppost within half a mile without a dangling body.

Today's discussion topic: are Japanese politicians taking things too seriously? Or the American politicians not seriously enough?


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