Saturday, August 25, 2007

Strictly business

Pravda-by-the-Imperial-Palace is reporting that Defense Minister Koike Yuriko will not remain in her post much longer:



"I want to leave it for the new minister to handle" - Defense Minister Koike announces her intention to not stay on
Yomiri Shimbun

Prime Minister Abe has come to the decision to switch out Defense Minister Koike in the Cabinet reshuffle scheduled for August 27. On August 24, Koike announced that she would be taking responsibility for the leak of Aegis defense system data and other things. She believes she will not be continuing on...

"And other things..."

One aspect of the Nagata-chō game which eludes me is the tendency to dissemble past the point of credibility. Then again, Washington DC perplexes me.

The Aegis leak? What did she have to do with that?

The reason Koike is being fired is simple: she has made too many enemies.

1) She has risen farther and faster than her status within the LDP warrants. Having leaped from party to party with the agility of a gibbon, finally landing in the Cabinet with a hugely important post after only a smattering of elections under the LDP flag, leaving a lot of the lower downs in the LDP feeling slighted.

2) She upbraided Ozawa, calling him out-of-date, in a seeming attempt to mollify and encourage her American hosts when she made her run to Washington after the election. Only one problem with that--she would have needed his total cooperation if anything was to be done about the November expiration of the legislation sanctioning the Indian Ocean deployment. Ooops.

3) She has the Defense Ministry bureaucracy up in arms for her spectacular but unwise dumping of Vice Minister Moriya Takemasa. Oh, if she had only not selected a National Police Agency guy to replace Moriya...

Anyway, with a huge national debate about to start over the renewal of the anti-terrorism law, Koike's continued presence in the point position was untenable. With so many of her allies and underlings arrayed against her, how could she have the wherewithal to overcome the resistance and delaying tactics of the Democrats and their allies in the House of Councillors?

It was not as though no one was aware of Koike's anomalous position. In an August 21 op-ed published by the Yomiuri (foreshadowing...foreshadowing) Akaza Koichi seems to have laid out pretty much the whole case against Koike staying on.

This was not personal.

Later - Over at Observing Japan, Tobias Harris shares my incredulity at the official reason for the firing...and he has worked in Washington, the other metropole of prevarication.

Even later -
Okumura Jun over at Global Talk 21 seems to be saying that Koike's announcement is making it look as though she, and not the prime minister, was in control of the decision. I do not know how this gibes with the verb ending (交代させる)in the Yomiuri version of the story quoted above.

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