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2008年6月 1日 (日)


05/30/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, May 29(IHT/Asahi: May 30,2008)

EDITORIAL: Bad appointment deal


A silly agreement between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) has blocked two important government appointments that must be confirmed by the Diet.

The government had to put off presenting candidates for two public offices to the Diet after Minshuto's Takeo Nishioka, chairman of the Upper House Committee on Rules and Administration, was infuriated by media reports naming the nominees before official announcements.



The government planned to seek Diet approval for appointing Keio University professor Kazuhito Ikeo as a member of the Bank of Japan's Policy Board and reappointing Shunichi Nagata as governor of the Deposit Insurance Corp. of Japan.


Behind Nishioka's reaction to the media reports is an agreement he struck last autumn with the LDP's Takashi Sasagawa, chairman of the Lower House Committee on Rules and Administration.


Under the agreement, a government nomination that has been reported by the media beforehand will not in principle be accepted for consideration at the Diet.


As explained by Nishioka at that time, the deal was aimed at addressing the opposition party's concern that media reports on such a nomination, based on information leaked deliberately by the government, would make the public believe that the nomination was a fait accompli.

Minshuto feared this would make the Diet conformation process a mere formality.

Nishioka apparently believes newspapers and other media reported the government's planned nominations using information leaked from the prime minister's office.

But this offers no strong justification for the Diet to refuse considering these nominations.




News media have every reason to work hard to obtain information about important government nominations before they are made public and report on them as early as possible.


The process of Diet confirmation of government nominations is designed to vet the qualifications of nominees by scrutinizing their capability and knowledge.

News reports on the nominations are irrelevant to the process.



Arguments about the nominations should take place on the Diet floor.


Minshuto must remember who rejected two government nominees for the BOJ governor in the current Diet session.


If the opposition camp finds a government nomination inappropriate, it can block it by using its majority at the Upper House.


Nishioka's argument that news reports on such nominations would make the public see them as done deals and render the Diet confirmation process meaningless reflects the thinking of a perennial out-party.



It seems Nishioka still doesn't have a clue about the political implications of the opposition control of the Upper House.



If he is so angry about advance media reports on the nominations, why didn't he say anything about all the stories concerning the expected nominees for the BOJ governor that appeared in newspapers and other media almost every day?


If Minshuto applies different rules to the issue depending on the time and the circumstances, the party should be accused of lacking political integrity.



Ikeo, an economics professor at Keio University, has no service at the Finance Ministry on his resume.

That means Minshuto cannot reject his nomination on the ground that he is a former Finance Ministry official--the reason cited by the party when it turned down some government nominees for the BOJ's top job.


As for Nagata, Minshuto approved his appointment to the current post four years ago as well as his reappointment two years ago.


In terms of their qualifications, there is clearly no good reason for shutting the door before Diet confirmation hearings are held.


We wonder if Minshuto chief Ichiro Ozawa and other members of the party really think Nishioka has made the right decision.


There is skepticism about the rule concerning media reports on government nominations even within the opposition bloc.

The Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party have said it could effectively undermine the people's right to know.



Yet, no political move to reconsider the rule has emerged during the half year since it was agreed upon. The Diet deserves to be accused of defaulting on its responsibilities.



Both the ruling and opposition camps share the responsibility to eliminate such an absurd Diet rule without delay.



--The Asahi Shimbun, May 29(IHT/Asahi: May 30,2008)

朝日新聞5月29日号 (英語版 2008年5月30日発行)


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