Japan's Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi Photo: REUTERS file
politics

Koizumi's 'sexy' words on climate change ring hollow for some in Japan

43 Comments
By Elaine Lies

Japanese environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi's call to make climate change "cool" and "sexy" rang false to some Japanese activists on Tuesday, who said he needed to lay down some clear policy.

Koizumi, speaking at the weekend before the start of a United Nations climate summit in New York, promised to mobilize young people to create a low-carbon future for coal-dependent Japan, which also emphasizes nuclear power.

"On tackling such a big-scale issue like climate change, it's got to be fun, it's got to be cool. It's got to be sexy too," the 38-year-old Koizumi, son of a former prime minister and often seen as a future prime minister himself, told a news conference.

But Japanese climate activists and opposition politicians said Koizumi, who on his first day in office also called for Japan to get rid of nuclear reactors, needs to start showing signs of action - or at least policy details - soon.

"We had hopes for Koizumi because his age is closer to us, but he didn't respond well," said Takuro Kajiwara, a university student who said he had expected hard policy details.

"We're just so disappointed, we're devastated," he said. The 18-year-old helped organize a protest march through some of Tokyo's most trendy areas last Friday, joining hundreds of thousands worldwide calling on governments to control greenhouse gas emissions.

"I think he doesn't understand the climate crisis. He said 'sexy' and it didn't really make sense," Kajiwara added. "As a Japanese citizen, I am embarrassed."

Koizumi became the third-youngest lawmaker to join a post-World War Two Japanese cabinet when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his government earlier this month. The telegenic son of charismatic ex-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, he regularly tops polls as the lawmaker Japanese want to see take over when Abe steps down.

Seasoned climate activists said they welcomed Koizumi's statements as something fresh from a government that has balked at serious reform and instead plans to build new coal-fired power plants.

"Of course there's no content to this 'sexy' stuff, but Japan's actions on climate change up to now haven't been impressive, and if he's really trying to change things we can't wholly discount his words," said Kimiko Hirata, international director at the Kiko Network, a Japanese NGO.

"He's said a lot of things, now he has to start carrying them out - or become known as being words and nothing else," she added.

Yuichiro Tamaki, head of Japan's largest opposition party, was scathing, tweeting that he wanted to see how Koizumi would manage to make Japan both coal- and nuclear-power free.

"We can no longer accept 'without giving details,'" he added.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
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bad choice of words

3 ( +5 / -2 )

He is conscious of the majority opinion, and cynical entrenched traditionalist position; to get that to accept new thinking his words may well be spot on..

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Personally I think his English is pretty dire. How did he get through Columbia?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

We're just so disappointed, we're devastated," he said. The 18-year-old helped organize a protest march through some of Tokyo's most trendy areas last Friday, joining hundreds of thousands worldwide calling on governments to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Well, I am sure things got lost in translation, yet if what a Japanese politician says in public "devastates" you I am sorry, but welcome to the real world of Japanese politics.

Koizumi was trying to be "cute" and really is not "qualified" for the position he was given, and needs some serious seasoning!

When one is born with a silver spoon in their mouth it's hard to get serious about something that they know nothing about!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Personally I think his English is pretty dire. How did he get through Columbia

Same way he got in: His family name.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

He's just the poster child for the J-gov. There is nothing cute or sexy about climate change. It needs to be treated seriously and not with teenage girls in school uniforms and childish stuffed mascots.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

These would have sounded like cutting edge things for an environment minister to be saying in 1991 or so.

Today though we really need someone who is going to be taking it seriously and actually have policies rather than laughably outdated slogans.

Its not entirely Koizumi's fault though. The role of environment minister has always been weak in the cabinet and the ones with actual control over policies that effect emissions like METI are way more powerful and way less interested in doing anything serious about it.

Depressing all around.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

The only reason that Japanese environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi is waffling weasel words is through political heredity entitlement.

Shinjiro Koizumi has literally no recognisable policy agenda. Shinjiro Koizumi stooped and picked up nothing. He displays a unique superficial shallowness.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that “sexy” means different things in Japanese and English.

in English, “sexy” can be used to mean “interesting” or “exciting.”

And like him or not, he’s right: something drastic needs to be done to get people more aware of and involved in climate change.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

At least he didn’t say”cute.”

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Actions speak louder than words.

We will see if he can break through the governmental and policy inertia, not to mention the vested interests.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that “sexy” means different things in Japanese and English.

in English, “sexy” can be used to mean “interesting” or “exciting.”

Unfortunately, none of the possible translations sound any less idiotic.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Actual policy?

son of a former prime minister and often seen as a future prime minister himself, told a news conference.

thats the extent of the LDPs policy.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I've been hoping young Koizumi isn't a chuffer. Isn't it true that his popularity, especially among young Japanese, has exceeded his talent unreasonably well?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Inexperienced clearly shows poor choice of words and proves he is riding on his father's coat tails. This is unacceptable with the issues facing Japan in the environmental challenging world and future of the country and planet overall. Seems like the Abe administration doesn't really care about the administration by appointing Koizumi and instead should have selected someone with at minimum an Environmental Engineering professional with over 15 yrs experience.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that “sexy” means different things in Japanese and English.

And from the way he sounded, he ONLY knows the Japanese meaning, as there is no way a fresh-faced diplomat would say something like that in an international meeting!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@voiceofokinawa

I’ve been hoping young Koizumi isn’t a chuffer...

Relax, he’s happily married....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My Mother won't forgive me for my cynical criticism.

Couldn't the very image of Shinjiro Koizumi be genuinely accused of capitulating to the fantasy that a faction lead Government would or could capitulate to a political belief that an apolitical pretty boy can become seriously a genuine leader of Government.

I will offer sincere apologetics, Shinjiro Koizumi is a game show host, can he sing or dance, ask his wife?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I think he just wanted to associate himself with the words "cool" and "sexy".

6 ( +6 / -0 )

We’re in for a long ride with Koizumi.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Honestly I don’t think anybody was expecting great things from him. It’s far too common in Japan to talk a lot and get nothing accomplished.

A good cut on waste could be making printed advertising illegal. Just for a start

0 ( +1 / -1 )

He's a young guy. That is just how young people speak.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Also, he was speaking English, so maybe he has a certain sense of the word "sexy" when used in English by young people.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Climate change isn't real. Thats just another government agencies trying to dictate how we should live our lives, just look at all the useful idiots they use to promote that boogie man. They are a bunch of know nothing about climate or science or weather. Just useful idiots and politicians,

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

The Artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince could make climate awareness sexy. That guy could make anything sexy.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Can Koizumi pick up the slack for the Abe administration when his father, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, is an avid anti-nuclear power advocate while Abe is a pro-nuclear, diagonally opposed to the elder Koizumi in that regard?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Children out there like Greta Thunberg are out demonstrating and asking governments to listen to the scientists and take action. When Koizumi silver spoon mentions making it all sexy, I get images of him forcing scantily-clad members of AKB48 going out on the streets to ask people to use fewer plastic bags. Nothing will get done in Japan unless we have cute mascots and AKB48 on TV.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

There is a word now that can be a proverb in the future to the world: What Trump does Abe does.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Self claimed, self promoted, and self appreciated leaders are the reasons for the fall of Japan. No experience is needed, no knowledge is needed, no achievement is needed. As long as you can tell sexy jokes, you are elected, you are selected, and you are hired. That is all liberal democratic party about.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The guy is funny.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The guy is funny.

Koizumi is doing great. Would love to see him join forces with Thunberg and tour the world in their sexy solar powered boat.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Self claimed, self promoted, and self appreciated leaders are the reasons for the fall of Japan. No experience is needed, no knowledge is needed, no achievement is needed. As long as you can tell sexy jokes, you are elected, you are selected, and you are hired. That is all liberal democratic party about.

Or appoint yourself 'president-for-life'. That's another way to ensure you stay in office...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

he's trying to make a point so used sex as an example - consider his audience his constituents - every Japanese TV radio commercial is blaring baby-voiced nonsensical idiot blabber - what does this tell us about a nation?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Give him some time. this is his first administration job. He needs time to figure out the facts on the ground.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Seth M, why give him some time ? There are 127 million Japanese, why waste their time ? Why can't you choose leaders based on real test, real achievement ?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

if he's serious, he should push development of thorium salt reactors.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Like father, like son. More style than substance.

It’s far too common in Japan to talk a lot and get nothing accomplished.

Hardly a Japanese peculiarity. Very few politicians deliver what they promise and the ones that deliver are usually dictators.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Or appoint yourself 'president-for-life'. That's another way to ensure you stay in office...

Or start claiming you deserve a third term because the MSM and opposition stole your first term. Just don't mention it was your own stupidity and lack of impulse control that got you in trouble your first term.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

diagonally opposed to the elder Koizumi in that regard?

Did you mean diametrically opposed?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think what he said should be contrasted to what Greta Thunberg said at the conference. When pressed by the question what were his plans, he didn't have one and didn't even express an opinion. He spouted off some crazy objective with no concrete plans for implementation. Asinine. He has been in politics long enough to know the issues of climate change, but he only said that he was put in this post 10 days ago...gimmee a break. This window dressing of a politician had better start doing some serious studying, forget your paternity leave dude, you have a lot of work to do in office.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Have to agree with the posters that he's basically there to make Abe's cabinet look young, dynamic, and err, sexy. I hope he achieves something good for the environment, but my expectations are low.

The big difference with Greta Thunberg is that she says "listen to the scientists" and deflects attention from herself. This is undoubtedly the best approach, because the easiest way to attack any campaign is ad hominem on its leaders. Accuse them of hypocrisy etc. If Greta Thunberg were an adult, the gloves would be off, and she would be accused of all sorts, not because she deserves it but because people want to undermine and drown out the message.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Antarctic contains 70% of the worlds ice. If this melted the sea levels worldwide would be raised 200 feet. Add Greenland would be another 20 feet. This is so very serious.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As long as the young Koizumi doesn’t wear a tie then he’s ok with me!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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