Oleg Artyukov: Ministers can cry too

The dismissals in the Japanese government are a usual thing. No one in Japan, or abroad would be surprised by the news, saying a minister was dismissed. But after the incumbent premier of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, fired the foreign minister of the country, the press evinced greater interest in the shifts of the Japanese politicians. It is not about the fact that Japan’s foreign minister was a woman, it is more about the formal pretext of the dismissal, which caused a mass of comments on the subject.

The conflict came up after Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka decided to cancel the prohibition for two non-governmental organizations to participate in the conference, devoted to the help to Afghanistan. Tanaka stated that the order about that prohibition originated from one of the influential politicians, “a secret owner” of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, Muneo Suzuki. Suzuki himself claimed that there was nothing of the kind, having actually accused Tanaka of lying. It was all over the Japan’s prime-minister crying right in front of the television cameras. Now she has been fired.

Of course it was not the tears that became the main reason of Tanaka’s dismissal. The officials of the foreign ministry did not like her much for her impetuosity; maybe the officials did not like the fact their chief was a woman, despite her popularity in the masses.

It is not excluded that premier Koizumi had to fire the foreign minister due to her inability to cope with her duties. This is the most popular version in the foreign ministry itself. Tanaka was once late for the meeting with the head of Iran’s foreign ministry just because she had lost her ring. She also let the cat out of the bag once, having said, where the US administration was evacuated to after the terror attack on America on September 11.

The conflict between Tanaka and Japan’s leading politicians posed a threat to the timely work on the new budget of the country, so Koizumi was forced to make a fast decision.

The shifts in the Japanese government happened right on the threshold of the Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov’s visit to Japan, which was supposed to start on February 1. So one may not expect any sensational progress in the bilateral relations. The talks will most likely touch upon the problem of the northern territory, about the dissatisfactory state of the economic relations between Russia and Japan. However, Tanaka’s dismissal will not help to solve those issues faster.

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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