Koizumi triumphant

The Japanese Cabinet headed by Junichiro Koizumi resigned  early today. At that, Japan remained without any government for a very short period, as a new staff of the government was announced at 2:00 p.m. Tokyo time.

It is rather conventional to call this government a new one, as Koizumi replaced six ministers only. Japan Defense Agency Chief Gen Nakatani and Minister for Financial Services Hakuo Yanagisawa aren’t in the Cabinet any more.

Today’s resignation of the Cabinet isn’t unusual for Japan’s politics at all, as governments change frequently in Japan. It is astonishing that Koizumi didn’t dismiss the government earlier. Since April 2001, when the incumbent prime minister came to power, the government still remained unchanged. If certainly not to mention the scandal in the Japanese Foreign Ministry last winter, when Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka had to resign, and her opponent, an influential politician Muneo Suzuki (who was called a secret master of the Foreign Ministry and who initiated Tanaka’s resignation) a bit later got on trail for humanitarian aid abuse in Russia’s Southern Kurile Islands. By the way, Japan’s incumbent Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, who had taken over after Tanaka, managed to retain the position.

Today’s resignation of the government made Koizumi’s prime minister position even stronger. Observers say, the very fact that the new government was formed so quickly testifies that reforming of the government had been planned long ago. The prime minister, who is considered a populist in Japan, got rid of those officials who stood up against his financial and economic reforms (Hakuo Yanagisawa) and those who compromised the government (Gen Nakatani who was involved in a great number of scandals last summer).  It is strange that Koizumi held practically no consultations concerning appointment of new ministers with representatives of the ruling Liberal-democratic party, which is not typical of Japan’s political life. However, the prime minister still enjoys rather great popularity among the population; recent opinion polls held in the country reveal that 67% of the population support him.  It is a really considerable figure taking into consideration the fact that Japan still fails to cope with a protracted economic stagnation.

Will  the newly appointed government be effective enough? It seems that nobody, including Koizumi himself can answer the question yet. The prime minister has achieved a tactical objective and strengthened its position. But if economic reforms he has declared prove ineffective within several nearest months, further political fate of the Japanese prime minister will be undecided.

Vasily Bubnov


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Author`s name Michael Simpson