On the second floor of the building next to the Nagatacho Council Chairman’s official residence was the office of one Ota Masaru, Chief Secretary of the Liberal Party. It was past one in the morning, and Ota sat on the bed of his private room beyond the office, his hand gripping the receiver as it had for over an hour. He had been losing a lot of sleep over whether or not the National Secrets Protection Act would pass. His bulldog-like face was thick with jowls and signs of accumulated fatigue.
"You yourself advocated the importance of passing the National Secrets Protection Act. It would be a waste for you change your mind about it now!" Ota's voice sounded a little rude.
"Now that Committee Chairman Matoba is against the act, I can't go along with it. Try and understand the tight position that I'm in right now."
The voice on the other end of the phone also sounded tired. Judging from the fact that he mentioned Committee Chairman Matoba, the speaker was probably a Diet member from the Social Democratic Party.
"I've done my best to convince Matoba. If that's not enough, then the only thing left for you to do is to try and convince him yourself. I'm sure Matoba is not inflexible, so long as you agree to a power share between the two parties." Saying all he was willing to say, the speaker hung up.
"Damn!" Slamming the receiver back onto the phone, Ota fell backwards onto the bed and rubbed his eyelids. Taking in a deep breath, his bulging stomach expanded like a frog's.
There was a knock on the door.
"It's open." Yawning as he spoke, Ota made no effort to turn toward the door. It made a clicking sound as it opened, and a red face with a clearly ingratiating smile poked in through the door.
"I don't know what it is you want at this hour, but I'm not exactly in a good mood." Propping himself up on the bed, Ota turned his head toward the man, the bones in his neck popping as he did.
"There's something that I would like to tell you." Shimazaki's eyes shone.
"I'd love to hear another one of your schemes to make more money, but this isn't the time. I've got to get this law passed."
"Trying to score as many points as possible while Chief Secretary so you can be first in line for that juicy Party Chairman position when it next goes vacant, are we?"
"Hmph!" Ota glared at Shimazaki with displeasure in his bulging eyes. But he didn't show any reaction to the man.
"You have nothing to worry about. After all, Committee Chairman Matoba of the Social Democratic Party is going to switch sides and start supporting the National Secrets Protection Act."
"What did you just say...!?" Ota bolted upright.
As if to taunt him, Shimazaki remained silent for a while. "I'm saying that if you leave everything to me, I'll get the Social Democratic Party on your side."
"If this is a joke, it's not very funny. Do you have some sort of plan?"
Ota's voice was trembling.