As he often does, Shintaro Ishihara recently offered his views on a subject that didn’t concern him and kicked up a controversy. During a press conference, the Tokyo governor sardonically questioned the “divinity” of pandas and wondered out loud, “Do we really need them?” — thus adding fuel to the argument about whether or not Ueno Zoo, whose sole panda, Ling Ling, died on April 30, should get another one.

Actually, the matter does concern Ishihara, because while the so-called panda diplomacy was carried out between Japan and China, Ueno Zoo is run by Tokyo, and it is Ueno Zoo that will pay for the acquisition, which would amount to more than ¥100 million a year. Consequently, Ishihara’s comment reflects the tone of those people who called the zoo saying they don’t think a new panda is needed, either.

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