2010 has been a helter-skelter year for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. After taking over the premiership from Yukio Hatoyama in June, Kan's Democratic Party of Japan lost its majority in the upper house the following month. Kan himself, meanwhile, survived a fresh leadership challenge from his tormentor-in-chief, Ichiro Ozawa.
Now with his approval rating at an all-time low, Kan has much to prove in 2011. So, being of a generous nature, Tokyo Notes thought it would ask Santa to deliver some gifts to Kan this Christmas.
A steering wheel
Kan has been slammed throughout the year for displaying poor leadership skills. A steering wheel could help him put the DPJ back on course, and take the party in the direction he wishes to take it (if he knows that himself).
Everyone has a soft spot for these furry bears and their sad black eyes. China has used pandas as a diplomatic tool for many years, so perhaps if Kan was able to offer these adorable creatures as gifts, he could maybe avoid more unhelpful diplomatic spats with Japan's neighbours.
With the economy stagnant and the Bank of Japan constantly battling to stave off deflation, Kan could use a pump to inflate prices.
Japan is known to be a greying society. This demographic nightmare means there are less and less working people to support the elderly.
An 'Anywhere Door'
Japanese anime character Doraemon, a cat-like robot, is known for pulling magic gadgets, potions and tools out of a special pocket. One of these items is known as the 'Anywhere Door,' a portal that takes the user to any place they wish to go to. Kan could use this door in many ways. He could use it travel to North Korea and rescue the Japanese abductees there (if they are, indeed, still alive) – coming home a national hero. He could also use it to escape from Okinawa every time the locals turn the heat on him over the US base relocation issue.
A pair of scissors
Ichiro Ozawa is said to pull the strings of many young DPJ members and wield great influence within the party. It would be of enormous benefit to Kan if he could cut these strings and win the backing of these so-called Ozawa children and weaken the influence of the 'shadow shogun.'
He might like to have one to the farming lobby to lower their resistance to the free trade agreements that Japan needs to quickly set in motion. Failing to do so will likely see Japan losing ground to neighbours such as South Korea.
Japanese people, unfortunately, are renowned for having poor foreign language skills – abilities that are becoming increasingly essential in this globalizing world. Babel fish are odd creatures that appear in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that you can pop in your ear and instantly become able to understand any language spoken to you. Kan could give out these creatures to help people communicate better without years of study at expensive language schools. But be warned, the book adds that 'by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, (the Babel fish) have caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.'
While it’s hard to purchase a thicker layer of skin, a wetsuit is the closest alternative. Such an item of clothing would help Kan fight off the barbs he has faced from the vernacular press since, pretty much, his first day in office. The wetsuit's buoyancy could also help him to stay afloat politically.
Looking increasingly exhausted with each passing day, the beleaguered prime minister looks like he needs some sleep. Hopefully, he'll be able to grab forty winks or more on a futon over the New Year's holidays.