Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Week in the Life of a Prime Minister and It Looks Like It's the Economy

I must have written about it somewhere, but major and semi-major Japanese newspapers typically carry a small daily column that gives the Prime Minister's itinerary of the previous day. The following is a translation of Prime Minister Fukuda's week, September 30-October 5:

September 30
09:07 The Prime Minister's Office (no holiday for Mr. Fukuda; must get ready for tomorrow's resumption of the extraordinary Diet session
09:17 extraordinary Cabinet session (ditto)
10:00 The Prime Minister's Official Residence
10:12 Office
11:58 private residence, in Nozawa, Tokyo (lunch?)
14:24 Office
15:30 informal talk with editorial board members and others from the print media. Joined by Nobutaka Machimura, Chief Cabinet Secretary; and Ohno Matsushige, Mitsuhide Iwaki, and Masahiro Futahashi, the three Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries (making nice with the media before the Diet session resumes)
16:06 informal talk with analysis board members and others from the private sector broadcasting corporations (ditto)
16:30 informal talk with the chief correspondents of the Cabinet Kisha-kai (Reporters Club) members (ditto)
17:39 Haneda Airport to greet the Emperor and the Empress on their return from Akita Prefecture (I didn't know that this came with the job)
18:38 private residence (Thank the powers that be it wasn't Narita.)

October 01
07:52 JP Nihon Yusei Building, Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. Yoshifumi Nishikawa, President of Japan Post, and others greet him.
08:00 startup ceremonies for the Japan Post Group
08:34 Office
09:35 Extraordinary Cabinet meeting
11:16 Hiroko Ohta, Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy; Bunshichi Fujioka (Cabinet Office (CAO) by way of Economic Planning Agency(EPA)), Takashi Matsumoto (on loan from Ministry of Finance (MOF)?) and Jun Saito (CAO by way of EPA), Directors-General for Policy Planning, CAO
12:55 Diet
13:02 House of Representatives (H.R.) Plenary Session, Policy Speech
13:57 Takeo Kawamura (LDP), former Minister of Education and Lots of Other Things (MEXT)
14:07 Office
14:26 Yoshimi Watanabe, Minister of State for Financial Services and Administrative Reform
15:25 Fukushiro Nukaga, Minister of Finance (MOF), Hiroyoshi Tsuda, Administrative Vice Minister of Finance (MOF), and others
16:28 Fujio Mitarai, Chairman, Keidanren
16:57 Diet
17:00 LDP Leadership Meeting
17:24 Office
18:06 Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General, Asia Pacific Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA; obviously Six-Party Talks)
19:15 private residence

October 02
09:57 Office
10:02 Cabinet meeting
10:53 Global Warming Prevention Headquarters (all Cabinet members)
10:53 Kohei Masuda, Administrative Vice Minister, Ministry of Defense (MOD)
12:02 coordination meeting of Government and Government Parties
14:22 Toshikazu Uchida, Administrative Vice Minister (CAO), and Yuji Fukushita, Director-General, Honors System Bureau, CAO
15:11 Nobuo Yamaguchi, Chairman, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Taneo Nakamura, Chairman, Japan Retailers Association
15:53 Masami Zeniya, Administrative Vice Minister (MEXT)
15:53 Eriko Yamatani, Special Advisor (Education Regeneration) to the Prime Minister
18:09 Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Futahashi
19:00 private residence

October 03
09:06 Office
11:32 Misoji Yabunaka, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
12:56 Diet
13:02 H.R. Plenary
16:21 Office
17:00 Atsuo Saka (on loan from MOF), Assistant Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
17:39 Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Ohta
18:38 private residence (Despite extensive renovations, the Official Residence is clearly not a pleasant place to stay, for Mr. Fukuda at least.)

October 04
08:28 Office
09:04 Mitsuhide Iwaki, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (H.C.)
09:56 Diet
10:01 H.C. Plenary
11:47 Office
12:03 Matsushige Ohno, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (H.R.)
12:17 Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ohno
13:56 Diet
14:02 H.R. Plenary
16:32 Office
16:38 Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura
17:20 Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Ohta, Keidanren Chairman Mitarai
17:31 Economic and Fiscal Advisory Council (note: Mr. Mitarai as Keidanren Chairman is a member)
18:20 representatives of the "Six Local Associations" including Wataru Aso, Governor of Fukuoka Prefecture and Chairman of the National Association of Governors
19:09 private residence

October 05
07:02 private residence; Motoji Nozawa, former Gunma Prefecture Assemblyman
07:53 Office
08:00 Mitsuhide Iwaki, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
08:59 Diet
09:04 Cabinet meeting
09:24 Office
09:56 Diet
10:01 House of Councilors (H.C.) Plenary Session
11:52 Office
12:56 Diet
13:01 H.C. Plenary
15:23 Office
15:30 Takao Kitabata, Administrative Vice Minister, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
16:19 Katsuhiko Shirai, President, Waseda University (note: Mr. Fukuda is a Waseda graduate)
16:49 Hideshi Mitani, Chief Cabinet Information Officer
17:31 Kazuo Kitagawa, Secretary General, New Komeito (NK); Kiyohiko Tooyama, H.C. member (NK)
17:55 on the phone with President Roh Moo-hyun, Republic of Korea
18:10 on the phone with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka (note: Mr. Fukuda is the Chairman of the Japan-Sri Lanka Association)
18:33 Harufumi Mochizuki, Director-General, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE), METI; Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General, Asia and Pacific Bureau, MOFA
19:37 Dinner at the Italian restaurant Belle Vue, Hotel New Ohtani Tokyo with secretaries (note: a Prime Minister typically has one political secretary and four administrative secretaries who are senior officials seconded from MOF, MOFA, the Police Agency, and METI. They are appointed for the duration of the administration, and form a close-knit team.)
10:13 private residence (The Official Residence continues to gather dust.)



This is just his second week in office at the beginning of what promises to be a contentious Diet session, so it may be atypical. And there's one more day, a Saturday, to go. But a few things are becoming clear:

Prime Minister Fukuda listens to bureaucrats. A lot. And they are for the most part economic and finance bureaucrats. His other appointments during the week, including those with his ministers, also reflect this domestic focus.

MOFA got a lot of face time too, but it appears to have been all about the Korean Peninsula, with the Six-Party Talks/North-South Summit simulcast going on. The MOD administrative vice minister got an appointment, but that appears to be it for the OEF-MIO refueling extension battle. It's now mostly political, and the battle lines have been clearly drawn.

He takes care of the media. I'm sure that Prime Minister Abe did those meetings before the Diet session as well. Still, it's a good thing for his administration.

And he hates the Official Residence. Didn't Prime Minister Abe used to live there? And Mr. Koizumi?

As I said, there's still Saturday, and Mr. Fukuda just might decide to hop over to the Official Residence today to get away from his wife and text message Yoshihisa KomoriYoshiko Sakurai and booze the night away there with Ambassador Hisahiko Okazaki and Professor Terumasa Nakanishi and Shoichi Nakagawa.

But I don't think so.

(note) For the Japanese-literate, the Tokyo Shinbun provides a couple of weeks full.

BTW, does anyone know why the PM's Office stopped posting the full itinerary? Prime Minister Obuchi's can still be found on the PM Office server for curious searchers.


ADD. Mr. Fukuda did not go to his Official Residence, nor did he text message (or dance the rumba with) Yoshiko Sakurai. He did not pull an all-nighter with the ambassador and his friends either. Instead, he spent a quiet Saturday at his private residence.

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