Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Japan's Ex PM On Pilmigrage Journey

Japan's unpopular former prime minister Naoto Kan has swapped high politics and power suits for a Buddhist pilgrimage of 88 ancient temples on the island of Shikoku.

Armed with a pilgrim's peaked straw hat, white shirt and walking stick, the former leader was spotted visiting Enmeiji temple, the 54th spot on the pilgrimage route, according to reports.

It is not the first time Mr Kan has swapped politics for pilgrimages: he followed the same path in July 2004, when he was forced to step down as leader of the Democratic Party of Japan over a scandal relating to unpaid pensions premiums.

On that occasion, he shaved his hair, donned his pilgrim's outfit and dutifully embarked on the same temple route in Shikoku, an ancient 1,200km loop which is among the most famous of Japan's pilgrimages.

During his current pilgrimage – taking off from where he finished before – Mr Kan is travelling solo aside from security officers and is most likely staying in spartan rural temples and blending in with other crowds of Buddhist pilgrims.

When asked what was on his mind, Mr Kan gave no indication that he was seeking repentance for his political performance and plummeting popularity during his one-year tenure as prime minister.