I am watching the House of Councillors Budget Committee session broadcast on NHK. Every time I see the head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau come to the microphone, my heart skips a beat. After the Democratic Party of Japan's election victory of 2009, I was not supposed to see bureaucrats, specifically not that bureaucrat, at the Diet microphones again. Ozawa Ichiro promised that politicians were going to take questions. Early on in the Hatoyama Cabinet, that became the rule. In 2010, the three party coalition even submitted a bill banning bureaucrats from giving testimony. That bill was later withdrawn.
The rule against bureaucrats taking the mike slipped during the Kan Cabinet and was completely undone by Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko.
I have to admit, it depresses me to see the CLB (the only paper on the institution you will ever need to read can be found here) back in the saddle, explaining to law makers what the law is -- at it has depressed me to see any bureaucrats back at the microphones.
However, having bureaucrats giving testimony on the nation's laws and policies is a logical consequence of Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko's promise to be a "no sides" leader of his party. "No sides" means every group within the party will have a chance to have one of its members appointed to a ministerial or sub-ministerial post -- regardless of whether a specific group within the DPJ actually has members who are of ministerial caliber. If you want to know what that means, ask the employees of the Ministry of Defense. They will tell you.
Ironically, the group which has provided the least capable appointees, or at least has failed to keep its appointees out of the line of opposition and news media fire, is the group orbiting around Ozawa.
It is one thing to promise that politicians will lead the country. It seems to be quite another to actually cultivate and promote politicians capable of holding on to the reins.