As expected, the next Prime Minister of Japan has been chosen, and it's former Finance Minister Naoto Kan (warning, link contains sound). I've been a fan of Mr. Kan's ever since he did the right thing during a terrible scandal involving hemophilia patients who'd received tainted blood due to inept government policies, and I'm sure he's as well equipped as anyone to handle the changes Japan is facing. Hailing from Yamaguchi Prefecture on the westernmost tip of the main Japanese island of Honshu -- it's famous for fugu, the blowfish that almost killed Homer Simpson -- Mr. Kan is the first Japanese leader in a while that isn't a "thoroughbred," the term the Japanese media uses to describe blue-blooded politicians whose fathers and grandfathers also served as Prime Ministers. Incredibly, Mr. Kan is the 14th Japanese leader to hold office since I came to Japan in 1991, a period that saw only four leaders each in the U.S. and U.K. In fact, Japan has had twice as many leaders as the U.S. despite having half our history. What does this say about Japan? It's hard to know for sure, but one idea might be deru kui wa utareru, or "the standing nail is driven." According to this theory, the long-standing tradition of Japanese disliking anyone who stands out or rises above everyone else causes people to fail to support their leaders after they've taken office.
Naoto Kan is the 94th Prime Minister of Japan, and he's laughing at the superior intellect