Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Prime Minister Appoints Two New Ministers and the Nation Yawns

Yoshimasa Hayashi and Motoo Hayashi joined the Fukuda administration on 2 August 2008 as Minister of Defense and Director-General of the National Public Safety Commission respectively. Sadly, they had to give up their cabinet post seven weeks later when Yasuo Fukuda abruptly resigned as Prime Minister, opening the way for the more campaign-ready (or so they thought) Taro Aso to take up the mantle and call an early snap election. (We all know how that scenario turned out.) Now, as his grandiose plans for a wholesale overhaul of his administration and party leadership has, like so many of his political initiatives, fizzle out, Aso is satisfying himself with appointing Y. Hayashi to take up the Economic and Fiscal Minister’s portfolio while M. Hayashi is being tapped to assume his old NPSA post.

The logic behind Y. Hayashi’s appointment is sound, since Kaoru Yosano had been doing triple duty in charge of the heavy-duty Finance Ministry, financial regulation, and economic and fiscal portfolios. Moreover, Y. Hayashi, though a 4th-generation heirloom turkey, happens to be an accomplished policy wonk in his own right. The NPSC job, though, needs little more than a warm fanny to fill the minister’s chair. Taking it away from the Internal Affairs and Communications Minister does little to ease his not inconsiderable burdens.

I guess the two Hayashis can at least claim that they did manage to grab a chair each when the music stopped. And Aso’s soul can rest easy, having expiated its sins for abruptly terminating the cabinet tenures of these two men to ultimately no political use as the Prime Minister frittered away political capital that he should have devoted to an early snap election.

I think there are some legal complications to Yukio Hatoyama’s financial contributions to his own political finance organization that are not being discussed in the mainstream media yet. The Public Prosecutors Office can give him a hard time with this, I think. I hope to write about that and what that means politically (and respond to recent comments on my posts) after I sober up—sometime tomorrow, I think.

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