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2009年2月18日 (水)

中川財務相辞任 予算成立へ態勢を立て直せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 18, 2009)

Aso must work all out to get budget passed

中川財務相辞任 予算成立へ態勢を立て直せ(218日付・読売社説)

Just when the nation is faced with its worst economic crisis since the end of World War II, Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who was a pivotal member of the Cabinet, has stepped down from his post. This surely is a strange state of affairs.


Prime Minister Taro Aso has decided to appoint Kaoru Yosano, state minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, as Nakagawa's successor, so Yosano will double as finance minister. Aso's decision seems to have been based on his evaluation of Yosano's policymaking competence. It is an urgent task to pull the Cabinet together to realize the early passage of the budget for fiscal 2009 and other bills.


Nakagawa slurred his words at a press conference following a meeting of Group of Seven financial leaders in Rome last week. His resignation Tuesday was inevitable as his behavior drew criticism and caused an uproar at home and abroad.


He is the second minister to step down in the Aso Cabinet, following former Construction and Transport Minister Nariaki Nakayama. Aso, who is struggling in the face of slumping approval ratings for his Cabinet, will have further difficulty staying in control of the government.



Resignation poorly handled

Shortly after noon on Tuesday, Nakagawa said at a press conference that he would step down after the House of Representatives passed the fiscal 2009 budget and related bills to take responsibility for the commotion he caused.


He may have wanted to carry out his duties to the last.


But all the opposition parties--the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party--insisted that they would not be able to deliberate bills with a cabinet minister who had already announced his intention to resign. The opposition camp then submitted a censure motion against Nakagawa to the opposition-controlled House of Councillors.


A censure motion itself has no legally binding power. But had it passed, it would inevitably have impeded Diet deliberations, including those on the fiscal 2008 second supplementary budget under way at the upper house.


In addition, even lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, openly called for Nakagawa's immediate resignation from the Cabinet.


In the end, Nakagawa presented his resignation to Aso in an effort to prevent further confusion in the Diet. The incident highlights the Aso administration's lax crisis management.



Markets want clear messages

The G-7 press conference is an important place for financial and monetary authorities of each participating country to send a clear message to the markets. This time, how Japan intends to deal with the economic crisis had attracted attention.


Footage showing what appeared to be a drunk Nakagawa mumbling incoherent responses to reporters' questions during the press conference that followed the G-7 financial leaders meeting was repeatedly aired around the world on television and the Internet.


Nakagawa blamed his shambolic performance on his having consumed too much medicine for a cold and backache. But we wonder if he has self-control issues.


Diet deliberations on the fiscal 2009 budget have entered the final stage in the lower house. Deliberations on bills related to the budget, including one to revise the Income Tax Law, also are under way. In the upper house, voting on related bills for the fiscal 2008 second supplementary budget has been put off.


The Aso administration should make every effort to pass them into law.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 18, 2009)

20092180134  読売新聞)


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