Noda: 'I'm an ordinary man'

Updated: 2011-08-30 08:47

By Frank Zeller (China Daily)

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Noda: 'I'm an ordinary man' 

Japan's Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda stands up as he is chosen as the Democratic Party of Japan's new leader while party lawmakers applaud during the party's leadership vote in Tokyo on Monday. Toru Hanai / Reuters

Leader stresses his moderate credentials

TOKYO - Japan's next prime minister admits he is no Mr Charisma - Yoshihiko Noda likens himself to a marine bottom-feeder rather than a glittering goldfish. But that, he says, is his appeal.

The 54-year-old, who as finance minister has kept to plodding statements so as not to spook financial markets, stresses his credentials as a responsible, moderate and middle-of-the road leader at a time of national crisis.

When he announced his candidacy in an essay in a conservative magazine this month, Noda said: "I am an ordinary man. I do not have large financial resources ... I am not stylish, and my looks are not my selling point."

On Monday, making his final pitch for the leadership of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, he used the fish metaphor, humbly telling his fellow DPJ lawmakers: "I am a loach. I can't be a goldfish."

The son of a paratrooper in the Self-Defense Forces, Noda, a married father of two, holds broadly conservative political views.

Noda is a graduate of the prestigious Waseda University's School of Political Science and Economics.

He then joined the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, set up by Panasonic founder and business guru Konosuke Matsushita.

The elite leadership course trains its students in management skills and world affairs, but also in ancient arts such as the Japanese tea ceremony, kendo stick fighting and Zen meditation.

Noda is the first Matsushita alumnus to lead Japan.

Politicians in Japan like to share their views in megaphone speeches outside commuter train stations, and Noda is a master of the form, having once carried on talking for 13 straight hours.

With the Democratic Party, he has served as Diet affairs chief, senior vice-finance minister and since June 2010 as finance minister.

During that time he has seen an economy plagued by decades of deflation slide into a post-quake recession, and struggled to bring down huge public debt and a strong yen that is hurting exporters and a fragile recovery.

Giving near-daily warnings to markets over the strength of the yen, Noda waded into currency markets three times as finance minister to weaken the yen.

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 08/30/2011 page11)