2. I don't know enough about the appointees to rank them. I'll give you the following instead.
Nagatsuma and Maehara will generate the most important headlines because they will be going after big game: the healthcare and pension systems, and public works. On the MHLW portfolio, Nagatsuma must remember that it's more than going after the missing pension accounts and the people responsible for that. He must show that he is more than a crusader, that he has the policy chops and leadership skills to bring the two systems in line with our future needs and fiscal constraints. Maehara's job is to slash public spending--a difficult task that is sure to alienate local powers. But he has to do it, if only to go some ways to finance all the spending promises and tax cuts that the DPJ has promised. I see two potential trouble spots: a restless Naoto Kan clashing with the Ministry Ministers, and a turf battle between Haraguchi—by all accounts one of those articulate, new-school policy wonks—and Kamei over the Post Office. Both the DPJ and PNP oppose the Koizumi privatization, but beyond that, I'm sure people like Haraguchi have a rather different view of where to go from that. Also, Kamei's heterodox views regarding financial services, his other portfolio, has a chance of bringing him into conflict with other Cabinet Ministers and the BOJ. I think Kamei is the joker in the pack, particularly since he has less to lose than the other Ministers. Fukushima has a safety portfolio, I think.
3. None of the people that I have an opinion on is "weak." That will be the weakness if Hatoyama is unable to keep everyone on message. He's probably as good as anyone else in the DPJ for that role.
4. It's Hatoyama's Cabinet, and Ozawa's party. Am I the only one that thinks it looks a lot like the Nakasone-Tanaka LDP of the 80s? That didn't turn out too badly, did it? Personally, I don't think Ozawa will meddle on the policy side. I think he has his dream job, another crack at sticking the knife into the LDP heart without the distasteful job of being accountable to the media.
That's it. Back to work. And preparing a late dinner.
Sorry about your comments. I’ll get back to them later. Honest. I really, really feel bad about not responding, since dialogue is the point of it all.
* Noda is reportedly being taken care of with the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary’s job on the HOR side, not exactly a political embarrassment, especially for a policy wonk like him.