The Yomiuri Shimbun
The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun's July 22 issue.
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While watching Yomiuri Giants' pitcher Tetsuya Utsumi on TV earlier this week as he picked up his 10th victory of the season, leading the Central League in wins, my eyes fell on his cap.
I noticed the kanji for "pillar" or "main support" was written on the underside of the bill, seemingly to remind himself of his status as the team's ace pitcher.
It is quite understandable that people may want to write a kanji character on something close at hand to keep their focus and spirits up.
However, when it comes to Cabinet members, for whom it may be unseemly to wear a baseball cap when attending Diet deliberations, a palm may be a well-suited place to write a character as an emotional pick-me-up.
During a session of the House of Councillors Budget Committee yesterday, a Yomiuri Shimbun camera caught the left hand of Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda as he raised it just before responding to a question.
Presumably having been written with a thick marker, the single kanji for "perseverance" could be clearly seen on his left palm.
The minister, who is in charge of energy policy, must spend many sleepless nights over the whims of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. For instance, Kan made a pronouncement of "breaking with the nuclear power generation," which he later backed away from, after coming under a barrage of criticism, saying it had just been his personal view.
The economy minister, to his credit, refrained from venting, when provoked by the opposition, the deep resentment he likely holds in his heart for Kan. This may explain why Kaieda held the kanji meaning perseverance in his clenched fist when taking the podium in response to opposition questions in the committee session.
People struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake, meanwhile, may have gone beyond Kaieda's kanji--which comprises two components signifying "blade" and "heart"--but instead may be feeling like writing the kanji for "grief," which combines the characters for "autumn" and "heart," on their palms. Perhaps the one for "sadness" consisting of "negative" and "heart" would be even more suitable.
The recurring component of all of these kanji is "heart" and seeing people eat grilled eel on skewers yesterday, the midsummer day of the ox, brings to mind a fitting kanji for the prime minister. Perhaps the best kanji for Kan is the one for "trouble," as the kanji is made up of "heart" and "skewer."
(Jul. 25, 2011)