In the latest emanation from Japan’s political gaffe machine, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has compared Japan’s economic resurgence with the comeback of fictionalized white-collar criminal extraordinaire Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street.
While speaking at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, Abe said, “Today, I have come to tell you that Japan will once again be a country where there is money to be made, and that just as Gordon Gekko made a comeback in the financial world … so too can we now say that ‘Japan is Back’.”
The PM went on to note that Japan was depicted as a major economic power in the original Oliver Stone flick, whereas in the 2010 sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps it is the Chinese who are shown as heavy hitting investors.
An article published in Forbes this May makes the point that power and respect accrue over time and are closely associated with humility – the very qualities that are the antithesis of Gordon Gekko.
As AFP reported, the PM did not stop at referencing Michael Douglas’s 1987 icon of avarice, who encapsulated the spirit of the high flying 1980s in his famous cinematic speech “Greed is Good.” Abe also mused that it would be great if hot dogs and sushi carts one day line New York’s streets – vaguely insinuating that this would symbolize Japan’s return to glory – before referencing Ichiro Suzuki, Japan’s shinkansen (bullet trains), lithium-ion batteries, wind turbines, deregulation and heavy metal rockers Metallica, among other things.
“Japan is once again in the midst of great elation as we prepare for the (Olympic) Games seven years from now,” Abe said. “It is almost as if Metallica's ‘Enter Sandman’ is resounding throughout Yankee Stadium: you know how this is going to end.”
This barrage of pop cultural references call to mind footage of Junichiro Koizumi crooning “Love Me Tender” during his trip to Graceland with former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Perplexed by Abe’s decision to link Japan’s economic policy salvo with a symbol of white collar crime, reporters grilled official Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga who said, “What the prime minister wanted to say the most was that ‘Japan is Back.’ And in the sequel, Gordon Gekko was redeemed, wasn't he?”