Friday, August 24, 2007

Koike to depart

It seems that Koike Yuriko, pegged by many to be one of the bright spots in the new cabinet, has said at a press conference in India that she wants to resign to take responsibility for the Aegis data leak, for which no one has taken responsibility.

She also said she wants to "pass the baton" to someone who can get the extension of the anti-terror law passed.

The former reason strikes me as bizarre, seeing as how she wasn't defense minister when details of the data leak emerged; presumably this resignation is driven more by her provoking the wrath of Mr. Moriya and bringing his allies down upon her head.

I have to imagine that she has lost the confidence of the ministry, making her position untenable. The MOD/JDA has struggled for years to develop its own base of talented personnel after decades of having its top officials seconded from MOFA and MOF, and I can't imagine that long-serving ministry officials are particularly fond of Minister Koike after her attempt to bring her own deputy in from outside the ministry — breaking standard operating procedure to do so.

Still, couldn't she have found something better than, "No one has taken responsibility for the Aegis leak, so I will?"

6 comments:

Adler said...

There are some sad and obvious realities at work here. In general, when men think something is "unimportant" it is relegated to women. The problem appears when these women take these appointments seriously.

Koike was appointed to MOD at a point it was becoming clear that defense issues were going to have to be back burnered. Polls were showing that voters found other issues were more pressing than military security and reality was showing that working with the US was not a totally successful strategy. Thus, a loyal bench warmer was all that was needed.

However, Ozawa upset all this with his desire to distinguish himself from Abe, even on defense issues. The one deployment that all thought was a good idea and that was actually serving multi-national, UN interests was There are other dynamics going on as well, but this is just a comment. Ozawa created a crisis saying he wanted to end it. And we all know, you don't want a woman around for a crisis, especially a defense crisis. They are just toooo emotional and not plugged in. And the hard crisis negotiation was going to take place at those late night drinking and whoring sessions. Solving this crisis, would have to be done the old fashioned way by real men, doing real work.

However, that "female" emotionalism was good as an attack dog to chastise Ozawa while the Abe boys sat on the sidelines keeping their powder dry. Isn't deniable accountability what Japanese politics is all about?

Koike unfortunately took her Minister role too seriously. She made the typical big mistake most women make; she tried to clean house and install loyalists before her position was secure. You never ever change things immediately and never immediately tangle with the bureaucracy. They take swift revenge. When will these ladies ever learn?

No women, especially in Japan, will ever have the full backing of the boys club. No women will ever really know the rules of the boys club. Until they nurture a generation of their own male proteges to protect them and run interfere for them nothing will come of their efforts.

For her to think that she had the full backing of Abe was foolish at best. She was simply a window ornament, easily replaced when fashion changes. She should have kept quiet about her clothes and wore the same pants suit and flats all day.

Her statement taking responsibility for the intel leak makes sense if you try to understand how women often feel in the situation she was put in. She probably just came from a meeting where she was set up and brought down by people she trusted and admired. She wanted their support and admiration, instead she got the blame and contempt. This, btw, happens even when the woman is successful (often especially so, and the reaction is same and the hidden tears as real). Male jealousy can be devastating to most women, no matter how competitive they think they are.

She was probably ripped apart for all sorts of misdeeds real and imagined. So, by the time she emerged she felt she might as well take responsibility for just about everything and anything that had gone wrong. Her muddled words read like a classic expression of humiliation, resignation, deep pain, and pure confusion. She was bitch-slapped and sucker punched and was simply still reeling.

She thought she was doing her best and thought she was doing what was asked of her. Only she did not understand what was asked of her was to humiliate herself for the good of the male group cohesion and ego. Women are supposed to work behind the scenes and never ever take credit for anything other than a failure.

So for all you security wonks out there, the little lady is gone, and it is business as usual. She moved too fast and too injudiciously showing that the MOD groupies for the slackers they are. She has been punished, "spanked" as you may. Feel better?

Garrett said...

Don't you think that might be reading a little too much into it, Adler?

I absolutely agree with the underlying point - that women are rarely, if ever, given real responsibility and that they are judged by different standards, but I lean more toward the view that Koike's position would have been untenable for a man as well, and don't think here position came about primarily because she's a woman.

Top bureaucrats are very powerful people - in many, if not mast cases, it's the top bureaucrat in any given ministry running the show. Now that the fellows in Defense have reached Ministry status, thus potentially gernering them even more power, they're naturally going to appreciate being crossed even less.

She picked a bad fight and went about it in a not-so-bright manner.

Ken said...

Garrett, I'll give you a chance to accuse me of reading too much into it:

A few weeks ago, Koike was a lock to survive the Cabinet reshuffle. Then she picked the fight with Ozawa. Well enough.

Then she realized that for the sake of her own political future she had to get the hell out of the Abe cabinet. Being associated with that man is like having "Loser" branded on your forehead. She had to do something to get out of the position.

So, she sabotaged it the best way she could: by crossing the old boy's network. That got her out of the position in a hurry, objective accomplished.

Adler said...

Yes, the situation would have been untenable even if Koike was a man. BUT, that is why a man was never put in that position. She should have been more savvy. It is a shame.

And no team-playing man would be so foolish to tangle with the bureaucracy first off, even if he thought he was assigned to do so. The male group, especially in Japan, would have protected him and guided him. As an "insider" he would have worked from the inside; Koike had no such option.

It is likely that she was told to get rid of Moriya and to shake things up. It is likely that she was told to jump on Ozawa--indeed what she said was no different than several other Abe fellow travelers. Only she failed to understand the true dynamics of her position, which was just to look pretty and do nothing.

If something really needed to be done, then the men would do it. And it is also possible that she was actually successful. She did humiliate Moriya and she did get attention on Ozawa's contradictions. Being a woman she got more attention for being less discrete.

There is a special kind of vengeance that men reserve for successful women. This is acultural; it is universal. And it equally confuses and hurts women for no matter how political they are. Women are never prepared for its visceral meanness.

It is completely disarming to receive no praise or to have a friendship/alliance dropped cold for a job well done. It is a form of unexpected abandonment and betrayal. Distancing himself or cutting off all contact is probably one of the most effective ways men have to put a woman back in her place and much more powerful (and painful) than the traditional bitch slap.

Adler said...

Not to belabor this, but isn’t the underlying question about Koike’s behavior a bit more profound than she didn’t “get it”? I think the real issue here is "Isn't a Minister more powerful than a bureaucrat? And Why was Moriya so powerful?" And "What about civilian control?

Until Koike tried to get rid of Moriya there was no criticism of her. At best her comment about being the Japanese Rice or Mme Sushi was embarrassing. Maybe she did not know that one of the terms that women (East and West) have for Western men that only like Asian women, is “rice lovers” etc.

The more interesting question is what did she do wrong: was it that she wanted to get rid of Moriya or how she went about it? I hate to point this out too, but it is not unusual for men, often more cowardly than they care to admit, to have an outsider such as a woman or a minority to do their dirty work. Moriya clearly had to go, but no one had courage to do it. Oh well, someone has to take the point.

Bryce said...

Adler,

In Japan the cabinet has collective responsibility for dismissing and hiring senior staff. At the least Koike should have informed the CCS.

In any case, the fact that Koike was handpicked to set up Japan's national security council, which Abe saw as one of his most important reforms, tends to work against your "Japanese politics is all about gender" hypothesis.