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MUSINGS / May 11, 2017

The Yomiuri Shimbun The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column of The Yomiuri Shimbun’s May 11 issue.

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“Deochi” is a common word in the world of Japanese comedy. It’s about a comedian giving his best punchline the minute he appears on stage, with the show reaching its climax at the outset. When this happens, every line that follows will fall flat. They say deochi tends to occur in instances such as when a comedian takes the stage in an eccentric costume.

We saw her appear on stage amid a storm of applause only to see her popularity plunge until she finally had to leave the stage, all worn out. I am talking here about the deochi of Park Geun-hye, but it has been known to happen to other South Korean presidents as well.

The set course for South Korean presidents is to stress “future-oriented” ties with Japan when taking office and later changing tone to take a hard stance on Japan as a way to buoy popularity. This performance style is a nuisance to Japan. What can be said about Moon Jae In, the new president?

They say he is the idealist type, knows what poverty is and sides with the ordinary folk. His personal history is appealing, but his political views, which are said to be “Pro-North Korean, anti-Japanese,” somewhat gives me the impression he has a diluted sense of reality stemming from his having been “accustomed to being in the opposition.” We shall wait and see what he is capable of doing with some hopefulness and more than a little unease.

According to a book of jokes, applause before a speech is an act of faith; during the speech, an act of hope; after the speech, an act of charity. We have had enough of deochi performances. We hope to see a South Korean president who is applauded by his people and the international community not as an act of charity, but gratitude.Speech

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