One of Mori's many infamous gaffes is that he totally screwed up the Buddhist prayer ritual
at the funeral
of his late predecessor, Keizo Obuchi
. Each mourner is supposed to clap their hands and bow in a certain pattern before the shrine of the deceased. The visiting foreign dignitaries, including Bill Clinton
and Tony Blair
, had all been well-briefed on how to do the procedure, and all carried it out perfectly. Except, of course, for the new prime minister of Japan, who fumbled through the motions as if he had never had to carry them out before. Mori got a lot of flak
for it, but it was soon drowned out by the amount of flak he received for the "divine nation
" statement. Admittedly, it was also nowhere near as embarrassing as the incident where George Bush
threw up in Noboru Takeshita
's lap, but I digress.
Mori's "divine nation" statement, in the original Japanese, was "Nihon wa, tenno-chushin to shite kami no kuni de aru." The wording is much more innocuous than it might seem in English translation, because "kami no kuni" can be translated to "land of gods." In Shinto mythology (Mori was speaking before a Shinto clerics' conference at the time), Japan is supposed to be the home of all the kami gods, and it is quite possible that he meant to butter up the Shintoists, not dredge up memories of Hirohito. Of course, there were many people who took it the wrong way in Japanese as well, so, as the previous noder put it, the verdict is still out.
Another little-known fact about Mori is that he is an avid rugby player, and actually entered the field during one of Japan's rugby internationals. Amusing, to say the least. If he wasn't a good premier, he was at least good entertainment.
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