February 10, 2009 / 2:16 PM / 10 years ago

Japan workers wax poetic over economic woes

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s salaried workers may have an image as corporate drudges, but some are turning economic angst and political ire into poetry in a contest that opened this week.

“My motivation, falling in tandem with steps to cut corporate costs.”

So opined one entry in the contest for “Best 10 Senryu,” a type of humorous verse similar to 17-syllable “haiku” but without obligatory references to nature or seasons.

“I’d like to enjoy the rising strength of the yen, but I have no yen,” wrote another contestant, referring to the growing value of Japan’s currency that is hurting the country’s exports even as it makes imports cheaper.

Poetic salaried workers also weighed in against a political stalemate which has seen three Japanese leaders take office in less than three years.

“Now I must again teach my children the name of the prime minister,” wrote one.

Another took aim at unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso, known for his fondness for ‘manga’ comics with this concise jab: “A fan of manga, my son says he will be prime minister one day.”

A spokesman at Dai-Ichi Mutual Life Insurance Company, which sponsors the contest, said the focus on economic woes and politics was a change from the past.

“We certainly have more poems dealing with politics and the recession this year,” said Masumi Ishizuki. Last year’s top 10 poems took on such topics as global warming, high fuel costs, and Japan’s creaking pension system.

Would-be critics can vote for their favorites online through March 13 and the top 10 winners will be announced in May: here

Reporting by Linda Sieg and Yoko Kubota; Editing by Rodney Joyce

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