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2009年6月17日 (水)

内閣支持率下落 日本郵政人事で誤断したツケ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 17, 2009)
Aso must act to resolve Nishikawa issue
内閣支持率下落 日本郵政人事で誤断したツケ(6月17日付・読売社説)

The results of The Yomiuri Shimbun's latest survey might have come as a shock to Prime Minister Taro Aso--it indicates he has been driven into a ditch.

In the snap survey, the approval rating for the Aso Cabinet was shown to have dropped to 22.9 percent, down 6.6 percentage points from a similar survey conducted just a week ago. Opinion polls by other newspapers show a similar dive.

One key cause for the decline in public support is apparent. It is the dismissal of Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama who was opposed to allowing Yoshifumi Nishikawa staying on as president of Japan Post Holdings Co.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed by The Yomiuri Shimbun said it had been unnecessary to oust Hatoyama.

It means the prime minister must now make a clear judgment on management responsibility at Japan Post Holdings if he is to get out of this pinch.

Aso said he had dismissed Hatoyama because the minister had caused confusion for the government in its dealings with Japan Post Holdings, and because the government should avoid intervening directly in the personnel affairs of a private company.

But the public evidently is not satisfied with this explanation.


Lack of leadership

According to the Yomiuri survey, many of the respondents attributed the confusion over whether Nishikawa should continue as president to a lack of leadership on Aso's behalf. The prime minister bears a great weight of responsibility for delaying judgment on this issue while seeking a replacement for Nishikawa.

The prime minister's delay in reaching a judgment appears to have worsened the already poor political situation spanning many other issues. Aso should take a long hard look at himself concerning this state of affairs.

However, the latest political confusion cannot be attributed solely to the prime minister, since the real substance of this problem relates to the management responsibility of Japan Post Holdings, particularly its president, Nishikawa.

The company has been tainted by several scandals including its questionable attempt to sell its Kampo no Yado resort facilities, the nonpayment of Kampo postal life insurance benefits and abuse of a direct-mail discount system meant only for disabled people's organizations.


67% want Nishikawa to go

According to the survey, 80 percent of the respondents said there were problems with the attempted bundled sale of the Kampo no Yado hotels, and 67 percent said it was not acceptable for Nishikawa to remain in his position. The figures indicate there is a great sense of dissatisfaction that action has not been taken against those responsible for the above scandals.

"Based on severe self-criticism, it's my duty to accelerate the necessary reforms," Nishikawa said. But, his remark is not sufficient to bring down the curtain on this issue.

Why were the Kampo no Yado facilities, public property in a sense, nearly sold at throwaway prices? Can Japan Post Holdings recover public confidence under the current management?

First of all, Nishikawa has a responsibility to clearly answer these questions.

Aso said he would make a final judgment on what to do with Nishikawa based on how Japan Post Holdings responds to an operational improvement order it received from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. After carefully examining the response, the prime minister must settle this matter once and for all.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 17, 2009)
(2009年6月17日01時34分  読売新聞)


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