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Why Did Kishida Quote Yoshida Shoin at the Ethics Meeting?

In his apology for the political funds scandal before a lower house ethics committee, Kishida curiously quoted a notable figure of the late Edo period.



Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before the lower house ethics committee on February 29. (Handout)

On February 29, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida appeared before a lower house ethics committee, apologizing for the political funds scandal that has engulfed the Liberal Democratic Party

In his apology, Kishida remarked, "The seed of the future will not die."

He was quoting the words of Yoshida Shoin, a political activist from the late Edo period. The "seed of the future" refers to future generations. The Prime Minister continued, "I feel deeply sorry when I think about whether we can confidently pass on the current political system to future generations."

Shinzo Abe

The origin of this phrase lies in a passage from Ryukonroku, effectively Shoin's last testament, written a day before his execution. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, an admirer of Shoin, occasionally referenced this phrase. It gained renewed attention when Abe's widow, Akie Abe, mentioned it at her husband's family funeral. She said, "[My husband] has sown many seeds, so they will surely sprout." 

Shoin originally used the phrase to appeal to his comrades. He said that if they had the compassion to inherit his aspirations, then "the seed of the future will not die." 

A Gentle Reprimand?

By quoting Shoin, was PM Kishida lamenting the current lack of political aspirations? Or was he gently reprimanding the Abe faction leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party for not upholding Abe's legacy?

Shoin's quote may remind some readers of a passage from the New Testament of the Bible: "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (John 12:24).


In 2000, Abe mentioned Shoin in an interview with The Sankei Shimbun. He said, "By being beheaded, [Shoin] became like a deity." Abe then drew parallels between the efforts of Shoin's disciples to complete the Meiji Restoration and the fervent preaching of Jesus Christ's twelve apostles after their master's death.

It's not clear why Kishida quoted Shoin, whom he doesn't usually mention. However, he wouldn't have intended to turn the Abe faction leaders into sacrificial lambs to resolve the issue by portraying them as the disciple Judas, the epitome of betrayal. Or would he?


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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