Japan’s top government spokesman on Thursday defended a speech by the prime minister in which he compared the career of fictional Wall Street titan-turned-criminal Gordon Gekko with his own country’s economic resurgence.
Shinzo Abe’s address to the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday — which touched on everything from hot dogs and sushi to baseball and US heavy metal rock band Metallica — repeatedly mentioned the anti-hero of the 1987 film “Wall Street”.
“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’,” Abe said.
The Oliver Stone-directed film portrays Gekko as a corporate raider who is ultimately sent to prison on insider trading charges and other securities violations. His memorable line that “greed…is good” became a popular symbol of 1980s excess.
Actor Michael Douglas, whose performance netted him an Academy Award, reprised the role in the 2010 sequel “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” which chronicles Gekko’s release from prison and subsequent redemption.
“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?” top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
Suga was responding to questions about why Japan’s leader had cited a cinematic convicted criminal as an inspiration for a policy blitz aimed at reviving the country’s long-limp economy.
Abe noted that the original film a quarter-century ago portrayed Japan as an economic powerhouse, while in the sequel “the investors that appear are Chinese — Japan is conspicuous only in its absence”, reflecting its two-decade slide.
The premier’s speech, on the eve of his appearance at the UN General Assembly, pointed to hopes that sushi carts would one day be lined up alongside New York City’s famous hot dog vendors — apparently confirming Japan’s revival.
New York Yankees star Ichiro Suzuki and Japan’s super-efficient bullet trains also got a mention in a speech that finished with a reference to the Metallica song “Enter Sandman”.
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