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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 September 26 - October 2  > How can we trust these ministers?
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2007 September 26 - October 2 [POLITICS]

How can we trust these ministers?

September 27, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo in the press conference following the start of his cabinet recognized that political and money scandals along with the pension scandal were the source of voters’ distrust and pledged to do all he can to eradicate public distrust of politics.

However, his cabinet lineup shows that he has reneged on this pledge by keeping many of the members of the former Abe Cabinet who became the source of suspicions about politicians’ corruption.

Many were surprised to see Prime Minister Fukuda appoint two ministers, Agriculture Minister Wakabayashi Masatoshi and Environment Minister Kamoshita Ichiro.

Wakabayashi has been denounced for receiving money from a Japan Green Resources Agency-related organization, which has been found responsible for a collusive bidding arranged by bureaucrats. The head of an organization subsidized by the ministry is also the executive representative of Wakabayashi’s political action group. And this same organization has purchased tickets for a fundraiser held by the political action group.

Kamoshita failed to come clean on the “missing 8 million yen” and “blank receipts” attached to his political fund report.

The reappointment of these two ministers shows how soft Fukuda is on corruption scandals.

When then Prime Minister Abe reshuffled his cabinet, it was said that rigorous check-ups were conducted on candidates for ministers. But Agriculture Minister Endo Takehiko was soon forced to resign. Defense Minister Komura Masahiko, State Minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Kishida Fumio, and Gender Equality and Population Minister Kamikawa Yoko announced that they had corrected their reports on political funds.

Many of the Abe Cabinet ministers who were defended by Abe when suspicions were brought to light retained their posts in the Fukuda Cabinet. Fukuda may well be condemned for defending or overlooking ministers’ irregularities just as Abe did.

Former Education Minister Ibuki Bunmei, whose suspicion over his office expenses is still to be cleared, was given the post of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party secretary general, the No. 2 position in the LDP leadership.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Amari Akira also retained his post despite similar suspicions.

As regards the issue of the financial transparency of politicians, Fukuda has said he has proposed a system of financial reporting that requires receipts to be attached on every item of expenditure to make them accountable. His proposal, however, is far from what the public is demanding because he says receipts should not be made public.

Fukuda proposes establishing a new third-party body in parliament to check politicians’ financial reports. But the Standing Committee on Political Ethics exists in each house. The problem is that this mechanism has been manipulated by the LDP as a tool to block parliamentary investigations into scandals and only deal with them behind closed doors, closing cases after hearing the Dietmember’s personal explanation.

The need now is for the Diet to establish transparency of “politics and money” problems with a mechanism allowing the public to check and criticize wrongdoing.

In the Diet, Fukuda should first state how the “politics and money” problem should be dealt with regarding political scandals. All ministers suspected of being involved in scandals must be held accountable for any such suspicions.

The ruling LDP-Komei coalition must realize that it has been driven into a corner by the deep public distrust. A new government that cannot recognize the crisis facing them will not be able to survive.
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