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New Japan PM Announces His Gov’t`s Goals

Posted September. 17, 2009 08:37,   


New Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama yesterday announced his government’s major goals at a news conference.

He declared a break from a bureaucrat-driven administration, fiscal soundness, decentralization of power, ties with the United States on an equal basis, and Asia-oriented diplomacy.

Prior to this, Hatoyama told party lawmakers in the Upper House, “Today marks a historical turning point that will begin a sweeping reform of politics and administration,” adding, “Let’s do our best so that future generations remember today as a great day.”

He also urged the lawmakers to reaffirm their commitment to working for the future as members of the ruling party.

Stressing a shift from a bureaucrat-driven administration to politician-driven one in the general elections, he said politicians are expected to take the lead in conducting state administration. The need for the shift stems from the judgment that government domination by bureaucrats led to inefficiency in Japanese society, such as checks among ministries, politico-business collusion, and the collapse of the people’s livelihood.

Along with the political reform, Hatoyama has a lot on his plate, such as finalizing both the supplementary budget for the state budget this year and next year, reconsideration of the privatization of the postal service, and provision of state subsidies including child support.

He wants to conduct all state affairs with politicians without resorting to bureaucrats, meaning his administration should do its work with half the personnel. Therefore, the question is how fast he can produce tangible results.

If Hatoyama’s reforms hit a snag or get delayed due to opposition from bureaucrats and the Liberal Democratic Party, the public can turn their back on the new government in the Upper House elections, undermining its political base.

Cooperation with Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa will also be a main factor for Hatoyama in steering the new administration.

Also drawing attention is how Hatoyama will push his new pro-Asia community initiative to build strong ties with East Asian countries by shifting Japan’s diplomatic focus from the United States to Asia.

jkmas@donga.com changkim@donga.com