• Kyodo, Staff Report


A humorous speech by Yoshihiko Noda, in which he compares himself to a “dojo” loach, apparently resonated with his Democratic Party of Japan colleagues who voted him in as DPJ president Monday and ensured the following day he would be the next prime minister.

Native to Asia, the eel-like freshwater fish prefers dark habitats and burrows into mud and sand to conceal itself.

In his speech prior to the DPJ presidential vote Monday, Noda described his own political style by citing his favorite poem, by Mitsuo Aida, “A loach does not have to emulate a goldfish.”

“Like ordinary dojo loach, I’ll work hard for the public and move politics forward,” said Noda, who took to the streets to speak to voters almost every day for a quarter-century until he assumed the post of finance minister in June last year.

The passage quoted by Noda appears in the book “Okagesan” (“Thanks to You”) by Aida, a poet from Tochigi Prefecture who died in 1991 at age 67. Many of his works focus on hardworking people living inconspicuously in society.

Noda’s speech is said to have resonated with many in the DPJ ranks and helped him score a victory over industry minister Banri Kaieda, 62, backed by DPJ kingpin Ichiro Ozawa, the chief of the largest intraparty group and the center of the party’s internal strife.

Aida’s poems may help Noda bridge the gap with a key Ozawa ally.

Noda is trying to achieve party unity by appointing Azuma Koshiishi, 75, a party heavyweight with close ties with Ozawa, to the post of DPJ secretary general, the party’s No. 2 position.

Aida’s poems are reportedly favorites of Koshiishi, the DPJ’s Upper House caucus chief whose support base is the Japan Teachers’ Union (Nikkyoso). According to Noda’s aides, he came to know Aida’s works thanks to Koshiishi.

Meanwhile, Noda’s ascent to national leader has helped push up the sales of Aida’s works.

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