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2012年10月21日 (日)

田中法相問題 これ以上「醜態」を見たくない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 21, 2012)
Justice Minister Tanaka must go now
田中法相問題 これ以上「醜態」を見たくない(10月20日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda must not remain indecisive any longer over whether to dismiss Keishu Tanaka as justice minister.

Tanaka, having been tainted with revelations about donations from a foreign national and past connections with a crime syndicate, skipped a Cabinet meeting on Friday for health reasons and was hospitalized later the same day.

The justice minister reportedly conveyed his intention not to resign to Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura.

If he really is in poor health, his hospitalization is understandable. It seems, however, the justice minister may only be trying to squirm his way out of the question of whether he should step down.

The previous day, Tanaka was absent from a session of the House of Councillors' Audit Committee, at which his attendance had been sought by the opposition, pleading pressing "official duties."

Members of a cabinet must attend Diet deliberations when asked to do so by the legislature, since it is their obligation stipulated by Article 63 of the Constitution.

It is definitely reasonable that the opposition camp, having reacted adversely in chorus to the attitude of the justice minister, has stepped up its demands that the prime minister sack Tanaka.


Links with crime syndicate

With an extraordinary Diet session drawing near, the Noda administration will find it tough to run state affairs if the current situation is left unaddressed. If the situation is left as it is, the public's image of the Democratic Party of Japan will grow even more negative than it already is.

Immediately after Tanaka assumed the post of justice minister, it was disclosed that a DPJ branch he headed had received donations from a company run by a Taiwanese living in Japan.

The Political Funds Control Law prohibits politicians from receiving contributions from foreign individuals or from entities whose membership consists mainly of non-Japanese. Although Tanaka committed himself on Oct. 4 to investigating and explaining the matter, he has yet to demonstrate his accountability.

It has also come to light that Tanaka, about 30 years ago, attended a party hosted by a leader of an organized crime group, while acting as a wedding matchmaker for a person affiliated with a yakuza gang. Tanaka admitted these facts at a news conference, expressing his "profound apology."

Given this, there is no doubt Tanaka was never appropriate as the person to head the nation's administration of justice.

The fact that the possible dismissal of the justice minister has become an issue barely half a month after the Cabinet reshuffle highlights the fragility of the new Cabinet lineup. This is mainly because the appointments reflect Noda's intention to hand out Cabinet and DPJ executive posts as rewards for backing him in the latest party leadership election, while also attempting to consolidate party unity through personnel affairs.


Noda's ability questionable

Since the prime minister claimed the reshuffle was aimed at "strengthening Cabinet functions," Noda should have closely scrutinized the abilities and aptitude of candidates for portfolios.

Regarding Tanaka, even his capability to respond to interpellations in Diet deliberations has been brought into question.

The prime minister of course must be held seriously responsible for appointing such a person to the post of justice minister.

Under Noda's 13-month-old government, the personal qualities of more than a few Cabinet members have been called into question by the opposition. Two of his defense ministers--Yasuo Ichikawa and Naoki Tanaka--have even been dismissed.

We cannot help but wonder if the prime minister has the ability to handle personnel affairs adequately.

Japan is currently confronted with a multitude of important challenges, including diplomatic and security problems, rehabilitating deficit-stricken government finances and recovery from business stagnation.

The prime minister must not let the problem of whether to dismiss Justice Minister Tanaka drag on any longer.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 20, 2012)
(2012年10月20日01時52分  読売新聞)


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