Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What role will Masuzoe play?

"The leader's magnanimity, symbolized by the appointment of Mr. Masuzoe."

That is the headline on a Mainichi article discussing the appointment of Masuzoe Yoichi as the new minister of healthy and welfare. Mr. Masuzoe, you will recall, was one of the fiercest critics of Mr. Abe's staying in office, arguing that the prime minister's decision ignored the will of the people as expressed in the Upper House elections.

Abe said in a press conference late Monday that he appointed Masuzoe to the critical post because he is capable of explaining to the people due to his "deep knowledge of pensions." Masuzoe was equally nonchalant about his appointment, saying, "Criticism is criticism. Now we must make the LDP one."

On some level, the prime minister deserves credit for bringing a staunch opponent into his cabinet, but the real credit will be earned when we see the impact Masuzoe has on the Abe government. Is he being brought into the government to be silenced, or will his presence actually serve to make the government more responsible to the voters, more honest about its mistakes, and more amenable to compromise and moderation? In other words, will Masuzoe have more impact on the Abe cabinet than the Abe cabinet has on him?


Bryce said...

Perhaps he can play straight-man to Abe's comedic act. That's what he did opposite Beat Takeshi and the gang on ここは変だよ、日本人. I always thought he was one of those academics who had the knack of stating the obvious in a way that made ordinary viewers believe he was revealing some undiscovered truth.

"Voters deserted the LDP because Abe was out of touch with the public on many fundamental issues."

Really? You don't say...

Tom said...

So what happens to the future of Yuriko Koike? She gets no job in the current Abe administration. Did she blow it by removing JDA Vice Minister Moriya? Is her star setting?

Taro Tanaka said...

Masuzoe is first and foremost a scholar. Read his book self-praising "nagata-cho vs. kasumigaseki" and his strengths and weaknesses appear. He has a rational, modern view of the world and is good at explaining rather technical issue in plain language. He still seems to be thrilled, though, by being close to power and bears an almost childish admiration for the bureacracy. He has no leadership experience and will face a tough time at MHLW. Taking the fight to his homeground, the media, will be amusing for us but almost certainly undermine his position completely. In other words, Masuzoe will bring a new image to the cabinet but probably not much more. I hope I am wrong.

Regarding Koike, Abe wanted to set put a period to her "Madam Sushi" stories and squarrel with Moriya. She will be back soon.