Is it fair? (the cartoon, not long-suffering on this blog, that clearly is indefensible). Are all Japanese prime ministers churned out from the same factory? Depends how sharp a focus you take, Our Man supposes. Zoom out, and it's, what, 61 prime ministers since 1900? Highly productive, one must say. But zoom in close and you can see the differences. We had one with long hair (Koizumi, last seen in 2005) one with glasses (Fukuda?), one with the funky shirt (Hatoyama) and a vilified one (Kan) who just got booted for being as incompetent as the last half-dozen in as many years. At least Kan actually tried and almost managed to initiate a change - away from nuclear power - but failed to move the ship of state off its course set circa 1961.
Maybe the new guy will be better.
All hail Yoshihiko Noda! Here's what Our Man knows about Noda filtered through a newspaper and a neighbour who read one. He comes from Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture, just up the road from Abiko. He was good at judo in middle school. He wasn't good at public speaking in high school. But has improved somewhat since then.
It will all be so different this time.
Back to the novel. As you were.