Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Defense Minister Saves Us from the Political Doldrums of Summer with a Well-Aimed Zinger at Her Deputy.

The Defense Ministry makeover would be put off until the new Cabinet would be installed on August 27. That left the JMSM parsing yesterday(14th)'s inconclusive 20-minute meeting between Defense Minster Koike and her Vice Minister and top MOD bureaucrat Takemasa Moriya.

Until, that is, Ms. Koike delivered this zinger:

Concerning Mr. Moriya's anger as the fact that "[he] hadn't been told about [his retirement]", Ms. Koike criticized him, saying, "Beyond this specific occasion, it often happened that I'd call him on his cell phone and he'd call back the next morning. I think this is a problem in terms of crisis management. In this particular case, I called him twice."

Beyond the obvious power asymmetry (Mr. Moriya cannot go around giving press interviews on the issue) and public sentiment against the bureaucracy (Mr. Moriya is a civilian, not a military officer, so even the pro-military Sankei bloggers are overwhelmingly in favor of Ms. Koike), this one must hurt.

Ms. Koike also threw in an apology to her Cabinet Chief nemesis Yasuhisa Shiozaki for the inadvertent leak, just as she had been making the rounds of the requisite nemawashi.

I've already been quite sure that Mr. Moriya is a goner. But with this latest, Ms. Koike has improved her odds of staying on. (Though a transfer to another portfolio of equal weight is a possibility.) The only test of will that remains is, who will succeed Mr. Moriya. My guess is, she'll give in here.

Seriously, guys, you've been the subject of similar accusations of dereliction, many times, over your lifetime? And they came at you when you least expected, to the greatest of effect? And they cost you?

Other than a minister with a minor portfolio changing her mind at the last minute, no member of the Cabinet visited Yasukuni on what we somewhat euphemistically call, "Shuusen Kinen-bi (Anniversary of the End of the War; August 15)". Ex-Prime Minister Koizumi did. But that doesn't count either. So this was a total non-story.

No comments: