Aso criticized the media for prioritizing Moritomo over TPP, got criticized himself, and the lefty media is playing it up and the righty media is playing it down. I don’t think Aso will step down over this, but this does give me a hook to address the speculation that the whole affair has driven a wedge between Abe and Aso, who is supposed to be pissed off at Abe for causing this issue in his bailiwick and mishandling it, according to this story line. Maybe. But most people familiar with the political process would be surprised if he were.
Politicians and their underlings call in on the bureaucracy about individual projects all the time. Sometimes, they just have questions. Other times, they exert pressure. And no one should be surprised. It’s what politicians do. Every inhabited spot on this planet. Every time in human history. And the bureaucracy copes. Do the political appointees in the Japanese Government mind? I don’t think so. After all, they and their underlings are doing the same with the bureaucracy outside of their jurisdiction as appointees, just as they did before and will be doing long after their administrative tenures become distant memories. And you can be sure that they never bother to notify their political colleagues about the stuff they do under the latter’s jurisdiction unless they’re desperate for an extra push—which will come at considerable political cost. And even if they care, it would usually be futile for the political appointees to try to keep up with the interventions anyway because (a) there are simply too many of them and (b) the bureaucracy will be desperate to hide it all from the transitory political appointees because they don’t need the complication.
And even if I were completely wrong, it would be odd for Aso to turn on some who has stood behind him through multiple gaffes of his own through the years. In any case, Aso appeared to be retaining his anger at the media even as he apologized.
I rest my case.