Monday, November 05, 2007

As a Great Admirer of the Prime Minister, I'd Like to Help Him Out Financially

Saturday, October 27, 2007

As a Great Admirer of the Prime Minister, I'd Like to Help Him Out Financially

The Cabinet members (and their spouses) have declared their assets and shown the world how much they are worth. A typical article will tell you that the assets of a typical Cabinet Minister average out to 116.95 million yen, just enough to make one a millionaire at current exchange rates. Yes, the average Cabinet Minister is better off than the average me, but I do not begrudge him/her his/her good fortune. After all, I want successful people minding our nation’s business, not some freeter who might be tempted to dip into the public coffers to pay the rent.

But some Cabinet members are not so well off. For example, Yasuo Fukuda, our Prime Minister, is worth only 72.11 million yen. Not bad, but still, he's the Prime, not Subprime, Minister. Moreover, he seems to have a liquidity problem. And, though I’m no rich man, I think that I can help him out. Specifically, he has 3 million yen in time deposits, while carrying 38 million yen in debts. I can tell you, this is bad. Fortunately, he owns a house and the land under it, which together are worth 23.76 million yen. I’ll buy that piece of real estate from him. In fact, because Mr. Fukuda is such a nice man, I’ll pay double, no, triple price. That’s 71.28 million yen. He can pay off that loan, and have plenty left over to make the down payment on that retirement home in Karuizawa, to go along with that golf club membership he has at the Karuizawa Country Club. And I’ll rent it back to him cheap, when he leaves office and has to move out of that Official Residence. Which could come sooner, rather than later.

Incidentally, Mr. Fukuda’s residence is located in Setagaya Ward, which readers in Japan will recognize as one of the better locations in Metropolitan Tokyo. The land is valued at 3.76 million yen, the house (most likely a condominium) at a somewhat more realistic 17.77 million.

The assets of State Ministers, etc. and their spouses and children under their care shall be disclosed when they assume and leave their positions.
Article 1, paragraph 4; Norms for State Ministers, Senior Vice Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries (Cabinet Resolution 06 January 2001 as amended by Cabinet Resolutions 24 October 2006 and 26 December 2006)

Since the law requires Diet members to follow more or less the same disclosure rules, this has the effect of capturing non-Diet member Ministers, such as Hiroko Ota, the State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy.

The listed values for real estate are the values used in assessing local fixed asset taxes. Golf club memberships and shareholdings are disclosed, but not by value. On-demand bank deposits are not subject to disclosure. Asahi makes something of an issue of the lack of transparency on yet another, more substantive point.

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