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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #163: September 25, 2003

Media-Friendly Japan Cabinet Gets Rave Public Review

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Media-Friendly Japan Cabinet Gets Rave Public Review"
(By Linda Sieg) Reuters


As reported in the article, and everywhere else, the new cabinet by Mr Koizumi has been received favorably among general public. In fact, so overwhelmingly welcomed that many watchers and critics seem confused.

True, there have been poor policy decisions made by Mr Koizumi. Appointment of foreign minister Tanaka at the outset was one, whose only accomplishment was to reveal a couple of excess expenditures by the foreign ministry's bureaucrats, at the cost of jeopardizing Japan's diplomacy, strategically and tactically. Another example, and perhaps more serious, is his recent declaration that the consumption tax, currently at 3%, will not be raised as long as he remains in the office, which is a bit of populist babble that could backfire on his own broader policy agenda.

But these and other incidents were not enough to dilute the general fondness people have accumulated for Mr Koizumi.

In the political sector, especially on the international front, Mr Koizumi's visit to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jon-Il last year was appraised, from both opposers and then supporters of the North Korean regime. Events revealed at the meeting and developments that followed, however, soured the relationship between Japan and North Korea, and critics accused Mr Koizumi for it. But that was not Mr Koizumi's fault, was the people's perception. When the government official who maintained the hardest line against North Korea, Shinzo Abe, was promoted phenomenally to the Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party earlier in the week, it was Mr Koizumi's acknowledgement that Mr Abe has had become so popular among people to make it beneficial for the party to place him as the spokesperson of LDP.

With regard to Mr Koizumi's economic performance, the jury is still out. Many of his policy decisions, beginning with choosing Mr Takenaka to handle it, have been criticized. But here again, the theorem that the captain at the helm maneuvering a ship is tactically always more vulnerable than the attackers whose sole purpose is the attack itself stands. At least his policy objective, or the agenda to realize that objective has been clearly laid out. It is possible that people, nonprofessionals on economic policies and uncertain as to which theory is correct, are allowing this unprecedented and transparent approach conducted by Mr Koizumi to give it a try.

There were a lot of talks regarding opposition forces within the LDP before the party election was executed. But to the general public, oppositions remained as exactly that, those who oppose Mr Koizumi. It doesn't take much intellect to oppose an existing power, be it the leader of the government or your boss at the office. What people wanted was not simply dragging down the Prime Minister, but to be given a vision toward the future, which may not necessarily be rosy in some respect, but something based on hard facts and guided by profound thoughts. If Mr Koizumi still falls short in providing such a vision, the opposing forces too busy concentrating on condemning Mr Koizumi apparently did not have the time to even think about it.

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