Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mr. Fukuda on holiday

Fukuda Yasuo, his (un)popularity barely affected by his hosting of the G8 summit last week, celebrated his seventy-second birthday Wednesday by starting a six-day vacation.

Asahi notes that this is early for a prime minister to take his summer holiday, and speculates that since the prime minister does not have plans to travel far, there might be some truth to speculation within the LDP that Mr. Fukuda is getting ready to reshuffle his cabinet.

Maybe so, but there is little information in the body of the article to merit inclusion of the phrase "Preparation for a cabinet reshuffle?" in the headline.

Mainichi includes a similar phrase in its headline — "mixed with speculation about a cabinet reshuffle" — but at least provides some reason for why the prime minister would be taking his vacation now as opposed to later in the summer. At the end of July and beginning of August, Mr. Fukuda will be working on budgetary requests, after which he will be in Hiroshima for the anniversary of the atomic bombing and then Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Instead of being a scheme to plan a reshuffle, Mr. Fukuda, no spring chicken at seventy-two, could simply need a few days rest at home with family.

The point is that while it's possible that the prime minister could be planning a reshuffle, neither Asahi nor Mainichi provides any evidence of this apparently headline-worthy claim. This is unfortunately typical for Japanese political journalism.

If they have information suggesting that there's truth to this, they should report it. If they have no evidence, they should write a short article about the prime minister's vacation and leave it at that. No speculation, no wishful thinking, just the facts.

As for a reshuffle, I remain convinced that it won't happen, that the prime minister doesn't want to break in a new cabinet before the next Diet session. He will return from his holiday next week and plunge back into the work of preparing for the autumn session.

UPDATE: Sankei outdoes everyone in its coverage of Mr. Fukuda's vacation and the prospect of a reshuffle. SankeiSankei and no other media outlet — claims that on Tuesday, Mr. Fukuda decided (their word) to reshuffle his cabinet on July 28. There is no source for this report. I may be wrong: it may be true that a reshuffle is coming. But this article reinforces my argument about the poor quality of Japanese political reporting. If they know this to be a fact, Sankei should do us the favor of stating just how it came by this knowledge. All they tell us are "government sources," government sources who leaked only to Sankei.

SPEAKING of holidays, I will be taking one myself from Thursday evening. This will be my first non-blogging (and non-email) holiday since I started writing this blog. I may or may not write a post Thursday, so this may be my last post until next week.

1 comment:

Taro Tanaka said...

Kantei people leak this. Amari and Fuyushiba likely to be replaced. What will happen to Machimura is the big question of the day. Given his low popularity he should go but who would replace?Yosano wants to re-take the position but this will also imply too much focus on consumption tax. Fukuda is not in a position to take risks.