Vocab list coming (if I ever get around to it)

Prime Minister Aso’s “KY” is an abbreviation for “Kanji ga Yomenai” (cannot read kanji).

Without a doubt, kanji are difficult.  I, myself, run into situations where I cannot read  placenames, etc., the first time I see them.  And I am embarrassed when I realize that I have been misreading characters for a long time.  However, when listening to Prime Minister Aso’s speeches, one gets the idea that perhaps he understands how to read kanji even less than the average Japanese.

Even in televised news, PM Aso read “zenba” (morning trading session) as “maeba” and “umu” (existence) as “yuumu,” resulting in much laughter.  What mistakes did I notice while watching TV and surfing the net?  Everyone misreads “shousai” (details) as “yousai” and “toushuu” (following, as in footsteps) as “fushuu.”

It would seem that PM Aso cannot read a newspaper.  There’s even a joke going around that he only reads Manga, and that he studies international politics by reading “Golgo 13” [].  But a quick glance makes one wonder whether it really is a joke.  Aso, who has had the experience of competing in the Olympics in clay pigeon shooting, seems to be projecting himself onto the famous sniper “Golgo 13.”

There have been heads of state who have been ridiculed with “KY (kuuki ga yomenai)” [lit: ‘can’t take a hint’]) , but Aso’s abbreviation KY would appear to mean “Kanji ga Yomenai” (can’t read Kanji).  Referring to Aso’s policy speeches and essays in Bungeishunju (a Japanese magazine), an Asahi reporter apparently wrote, “Isn’t there someone who will teach me my mistakes in reading kanji?”  “Tarou… stop reading only Manga and do some studying.”

Shirasaka Kazuhiko