Friday, October 05, 2012

Mitsui Drops off a Shoe; a Correction Is in Order

I mentioned the other day that “Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare [Wakio] owns a pharmaceutical and household goods wholesale business.” My bad. The business that that Minister Mitsui founded is almost certainly not the one with the same name that I located. I have no idea if it still exists. I found out when I learned that he had resigned as the unpaid chairman of the medical corporation that owns the hospitals and nursing homes that I referred to on that occasion and wondered why his company had not been mentioned.

Incidentally, Mr. Mitsui arguably may not in either of these cases, one now maybe purely hypothetical, violate the ethical standards set forth for cabinet and subcabinet political appointees in a 2006 cabinet decision. However, the conflict of interest is far more direct and obvious than two years ago, when he kept his chairmanship as a senior parliamentary vice-minister at MLIT in the Kan administration. Since the LDP opposition research team was poised to jump him the first opportunity it got, the weakened Noda administration must have decided to take no chances. Here’s my translation of the relevant part of the cabinet decision.

“With regard to state ministers, etc. (the prime minister and other state ministers, senior parliamentary vice-ministers (including the deputy chief cabinet secretary; hereinafter the same) and parliamentary vice-ministers; hereinafter the same) shall execute their duties for the public interest, forsake mixing the public and private, and maintain integrity concerning their duties.”
“With regard to for-profit corporations, they shall not concurrently hold positions as executives or employees whether or not compensation is received.”
“With regard to public service corporations and other similar organizations, they shall not concurrently hold positions as executives or employees except for honorary positions without compensation, etc.”
“They shall voluntarily refrain from transactions in stock and other securities…”

Note that a political appointee may have 100% ownership of a company whose interests are directly affected by his decisions as long as he does not serve the company in any capacity.

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