electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies
Discussion Paper 2 in 2005
Structural Construction of Japanese Politics as an Alternative to Structural Reform
Prime Minister Koizumi is well known for his policy of the structural reform, or kōzō kaikaku, of Japanese politics by his promotion of it to Japanese citizens through the mass media. However, his definition of the term kōzō (structure) was questionable and has been little discussed (Yanbe 2001: vii-ix, Nagano 2002: i-viii). Nevertheless, Koizumi used it as a slogan for his administration.
Firstly, we should consider a definition for the term kōzō kaikaku. According to the fifth edition of the Kojien, the term kōzō has two meanings (Shinmura 1998: 905):
On the other hand, the term kaikaku (reform) also has two meanings (Shinmura 1998: 430):
Furthermore, let us make a simple proposition. First, if Koizumi wished to achieve structural reform, Japanese politics would necessarily require the existence of a structure. However, I propose that, due to the absence of a structure in Japanese politics, Koizumi's attempts to achieve its reform are impossible. To illustrate this problem, the question of who is(are) the true leader(s) of Japanese politics arises (Muramatsu et. al. 2001: 1). It could be the Prime Minister, the zoku giin (diet cliques) of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), or the bureaucracy. The answer, of course, is all and none of these. In other words, it is uncertain who the true leader of Japanese politics is. This establishes that there is little or no structure to Japanese politics. Thus, the fact that Koizumi quixotically is attempting to change a non-existent political structure is interesting and we should perhaps try to discover what the real intentions are behind the policy of structural reform.
More precisely, Japanese politics has long possessed structure in its tatemae (stated reason) since, for example, we know the names and ranks of persons such as the Chief Cabinet Secretary, the Foreign Minister and the Permanent Vice-Minister of Environment. However, Japanese politics does not possess structure in its honne (real intentions) due to the reasons mentioned above. This is rather a double standard. It appears, therefore, that Koizumi's intention is the reform of the tatemae of Japanese politics and not its honne. At least, it is certain that the structural reform already undertaken matches the second definition of kaikaku as cited in the Kojien, in that it cannot cause political unrest!
Besides, Koizumi has insisted that there should be no sanctuary to structural reform (seiiki naki kōzō kaikaku) (Koizumi 7 May 2001). However, a sanctuary does exist. Although he has mentioned that he intended to advance political structural reform (Koizumi 26 April 2001), the sanctuary is the honne of Japanese politics. Koizumi also insisted on itami wo tomonau kaikaku (reform requiring pain or sacrifice). However, there has been little pain in the honne of Japanese politics. The LDP, in particular, have not had to face any sacrifices. This implies, therefore, that the intention is that the LDP does not have to become a non-governing party again. Koizumi and the teikō seiryoku (forces of resistance) (Oshita 2002) within the LDP such as Koga Makoto agreed with this aspect of Koizumi's leadership. This was a reason why Koizumi and the teikō seiryoku continued to exist together in the LDP. In fact, Koizumi assumed a conservative attitude toward the prohibition of the funding of political parties under the auspices of the habatsu (political factions). Moreover, he regarded the former electoral system of the House of Representatives, i.e., medium-sized electoral districts, to be suitable for Japanese voters. At least, he has not aggressively proceeded with its reform (Sataka 2001: 37-38, Oshita 2002: 179-180).
However, Koizumi would argue in reply that he intended to disband the 'old LDP' (The House of Representatives 14 May 2001). A representative example of the 'old LDP' is factional politics (habatsu seiji), which he did intend to disband. Indeed, as a result of Tanaka Makiko's demands (Oshita 2001: 248), he parted ways with the Mori faction when he ran for the LDP presidential election in 2001. After he was elected to the office of the LDP President and thus became Prime Minister, he organized the posts of both the LDP and the cabinet in defiance of the factions. For example, he did not select the LDP's three top executive positions (the LDP Secretary-General, the Chairperson of the Policy Research Council, and the Chairperson of the General Council) from the Hashimoto faction, the largest in the LDP. At least it had been customary to appoint an assembly member who belonged to the largest faction in to the post of Secretary-General. However, Koizumi appeared deliberately to flout convention and nominated Yamazaki Taku, who was the leader of a small faction (approximately twenty members) (Wada and Ariga 2002: 60).
In addition, it would have made sense if Koizumi had named Kamei Shizuka to the post of Chairperson of the Policy Research Council, since his faction voted for Koizumi at the LDP presidential election. However, contrary to this, he intended to name Hiranuma Takeo, who was a member of the Eto-Kamei faction. Koizumi did not consult with the leaders of the faction beforehand, and both Eto and Kamei carefully noted this behaviour, which is referred to as ippon-zuri (pole-and-line fishing) in Japanese. Ippon-zuri as a method of choosing people for posts is contradictory to the existence of political factions since it weakens their centripetal force (Wada and Ariga 2002: 68). In the case of Hiranuma, he rejected Koizumi's offer due to the anger of one of the Eto-Kamei faction's leaders, Eto (Hayano 2003: 213). Instead, Koizumi appointed Aso Taro, who was an opposition candidate to Koizumi during the LDP presidential election, and Hiranuma became the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Horiuchi Mitsuo was the third LDP top executive, the Chairperson of the General Council. However, Wada mentions that Koizumi named Aso and Horiuchi to these posts in order to maintain a balance among factions, since they had insisted on countercyclical actions against Koizumi. Therefore, the personnel appointments revealed that Koizumi did not necessarily disband the factions.
In reply to an enquiry regarding his new Cabinet, Koizumi used the phrase 'kyōten dōchi no jinji' (controversial personnel affairs) (Wada and Ariga 2002: 66-67). Particularly, Koizumi nominated Tanaka Makiko for the post of Foreign Minister. She did not belong to any faction. He appointed Takenaka Heizo, who was a non-elected citizen, and a professor of Keio University, as the Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy. Two other non-elected citizens were recruited as ministers. Toyama Atsuko (the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) and Kawaguchi Yoriko (the Minister of the Environment). This shocked the factional politicians because they lost opportunities to promote their members to ministerial rank. It seemed that Koizumi genuinely wanted to disband the 'old LDP' because of these personnel appointments. However, this was not true. He saved the LDP by merely pretending to disband the factions.
There are other episodes in which Koizumi appeared to disband the 'old LDP' but did not in fact do so. When Koizumi was running for the LDP presidential election in 2003, Nonaka Hiromu declared his retirement from politics. In addition, Koizumi asked Nakasone Yasuhiro and Miyazawa Kiichi to desist from running for proportional representation seats in the 2003 House of Representatives election (Asahi Shinbun 24 October 2003, Asahi Shinbun 28 October 2003). They consented to his request, stood down, and retired from politics. Consequently, it may seem that Koizumi had disbanded the 'old LDP'. However, Koizumi would have considered their retirements to be beneficial for the LDP's ultimate goal, the maintenance of LDP power. One might think that it is only appropriate for the government party to maintain or attain power. However, this poses a problem when politicians with conflicting views on policies become members of the same party only in order to maintain or attain power. In brief, Koizumi intended to renew the 'old LDP' by pretending to disband it. However, Koizumi may argue in reply stating that he attempted to change the teikō seiryoku into becoming kyōryoku seiryoku (forces for cooperation) (Koizumi 4 January 2002). In fact, he hoped Koga would enter the cabinet as the Minister of Finance or Minister of Foreign Affairs when Koizumi reshuffled his cabinet in 2002. However, Koga rejected the offer (Oshita 2002: 551-552). On the other hand, there was no indication that Koga had altered his viewpoint even after Koizumi became the Prime Minister (Yomiuri Shinbun 4 October 2003).
Not only the LDP, but also the Japanese mass media pose problems because they aided the image building of Koizumi's kōzō kaikaku. For example, the media often reports that it is the bureaucrats who are resisting kōzō kaikaku. However, the names of the persons resisting it are not concretely disclosed. These persons are vaguely reported with an abstract name, such as 'the bureaucrats'. Thus, not only the bureaucrats and the zoku giin, but also the Japanese mass media are teikō seiryoku.
This paper proposes that, rather than Japanese politics needing structural reform, or kōzō kaikaku, what it requires is structural construction, or kōzō kōchiku. This paper defines structure, or kōzō, in politics as having two meanings, with those being a responsibility for action (Responsibility) and a responsibility to account for action (Accountability). Therefore, kōzō kōchiku implies the execution of these two things in actual politics. This definition has been inspired by the ideas of Karel van Wolferen (1994 : 80-86).
The paper is divided as follows. Section 2 explains that kōzō in Japanese politics is actually non-existent by citing two examples of events from the Koizumi administration. The first is a problem in which two Japanese NGOs were prohibited from attending a meeting on Afghan reconstruction by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001 (Section 2.1). The second example is the jimujikan kaigi (the meeting of permanent secretaries of the various ministries). This meeting is the ultimate symbol of Japan's bureaucracy (Section 2.2). Section 3 describes two events that cultivated the image that Koizumi was proceeding with kōzō kaikaku. The first event was the decision not to appeal the Kumamoto District Court's ruling for the plaintiffs in the Hansen's disease case in 2001 (Section 3.2). The second was Koizumi's electrifying visit to North Korea in 2002 (Section 3.3). After these two events, the approval rating for Koizumi's cabinet rose and the LDP won elections. This was because the Japanese electorate were led by these events to expect that Koizumi would accomplish kōzō kaikaku. In addition, the Japanese mass media served to arouse the Japanese public's expectations. Section 4 concludes the paper.
2 Absence of kōzō in the honne of Japanese Politics
This section reveals the absence of kōzō in the honne of Japanese politics. It cites two examples from Koizumi's cabinet. The first is the NGO problem in 2001 and the second is the jimujikan kaigi.
2.1 Who is the true leader of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
This subsection describes a problem which arose when two Japanese NGOs were prohibited from attending a conference on Afghan reconstruction held in Tokyo in 2001. The conference was called by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It should also be noted that the problem was caused during the period of Koizumi's administration which aimed at kōzō kaikaku. This was possibly Tanaka Makiko's notable achievement as the Foreign Minister because it disclosed the falsity of kōzō kaikaku (Hayano 2003: 215). However, she would not have intended to accomplish this disclosure.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided on the non-participation of two NGOs (Peace Winds Japan and Japan Platform). However, Tanaka Makiko was unaware of this. Nevertheless, she allowed the two organizations to attend the meeting after being told of their being prevented from participation. The problem concerns the person who made the decision that the NGOs were not permitted to participate in the meeting. Tanaka insisted that Suzuki Muneo had pressured government officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including Nogami Yoshiji, the Administrative Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, not to allow the NGOs to participate. However, both Suzuki and Nogami denied her claim (Asahi Shinbun 25 January 2002, Asahi Shinbun 26 January 2002a). Suzuki urged that he had only made a statement to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the form of, 'Afghanistan is dangerous because some remnants of Taliban still exist. Therefore, it was essential to establish increased contact with NGOs' (Asahi Shinbun 27 January 2002). Onishi Kensuke, a leader of Peace Winds Japan, heard from a staff member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Suzuki had required the Ministry to refuse the participation of the NGOs. However, Suzuki asserted that he had not asked the Ministry to prevent the NGOs' participation (Asahi Shinbun 26 January 2002b). Koizumi commented that he wanted them all to compose their thoughts and ascertain their memories (Asahi Shinbun 25 January 2002). This could be likened to the Japanese Prime Minister warning them not to cause any trouble.
On 28 January 2002, the government presented findings at the director's meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives in order to try to suppress the disturbance. It stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not confirm the claim of a specific assemblyperson regarding the decision on the participation of the NGOs. On 4 February, Koizumi answered that he hoped the conflict would subside as a result of his advice to Tanaka asking her not to pay attention to 'henna giin no henna iukoto' (the strange suggestion by the strange assemblyperson) at the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives (Asahi Shinbun 4 February 2002a (Evening Edition), The House of Representatives 4 February 2002). Of course, as might be expected when he made reference to 'the strange assemblyperson', he meant Suzuki Muneo. However, he immediately supported the findings after his response. Perhaps, he intended to clear up the contradiction between his response and the findings. Moreover, it was not certain who was responsible for the findings. On 29 January, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) pursued the problem at the director's meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives. The DPJ asked the LDP, 'Which of you made the findings?' The LDP answered, 'I don't know.' The DPJ commented that it looked like a task performed by a child (Asahi Shinbun 30 January 2002b).
On 29 January, Koizumi concluded that he would have to dismiss Tanaka and Nogami because he was worried that deliberations on the budget bill would be held back. This led to a sudden fall in the approval rating of the Koizumi Cabinet from 72 percent (26 and 27 January) to 49 percent (2 and 3 February) (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 4 February 2002). In all possibility, Koizumi could have anticipated this. He would have taken the risk because he was 'romantically involved' with Ogata Sadako (Asahi Shinbun 30 January 2002 (Evening Edition), Asahi Shinbun 31 January 2002 (Evening Edition)). He would have compared Tanaka with Ogata. Although Tanaka was a popular politician among Japanese people, Koizumi had encountered bitter experiences such as this problem with her. In other words, she was a trouble-maker for him. On the contrary, Ogata was also popular with the Japanese because of her career as the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and her faithful character. Koizumi expected that she would not have caused any trouble with the government officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, Ogata turned him down (Asahi Shinbun 1 February 2002).
Japanese newspapers such as the Asahi Shinbun expressed the dismissals as 'kenka ryōseibai' (Asahi Shinbun 30 January 2002b). According to Kodansha's Japan an Illustrated Encyclopedia, kenka ryōseibai is a principle according to which both parties in a private fight are punished. It was first institutionalized in the Nambokucho period (1337-1392). Perhaps, there is no fundamental difference between the present Japanese politics and that which existed 650 years ago. In any case, Koizumi could abandon any investigation of the original problem by resorting to kenka ryōseibai. In other words, he obliged them to answer for the problem (Responsibility), whereas he could avoid accounting for it (Accountability). This reveals that Japanese politics does not possess kōzō in its honne. Asahi Shinbun writes 'the dismissal of the Foreign Minister implies a drastic change in the structure of political power' (Asahi Shinbun 30 January 2002a). The Asahi Shinbun fails to understand the definition of the term kōzō (Structure).
After the dismissal of Tanaka and Nogami, the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives called Tanaka and Suzuki as witnesses on 20 February (Asahi Shinbun 20 February 2002a (Evening Edition), Asahi Shinbun 20 February 2002b (Evening Edition), Asahi Shinbun 20 February 2002c (Evening Edition), The House of Representatives 20 February 2002). However, they opposed each other all the same and the truth was not revealed.
This problem leads to the following question; who was the true leader of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? It could have been the Foreign Minister, the Administrative Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, or the zoku giin (diet clique) of the LDP. The answer is all and none of these. In fact, Tanaka, the Foreign Minister, commented on Nogami Yoshiji, the Administrative Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs at the foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives on December 2001. She said that he looked like an emperor. However, this comment was erased from the proceedings (Asahi Shinbun 22 February 2002).
According to the government's final investigation, a direct cause of the whole problem was Onishi Kensuke's (Chief Executive Officer of Peace Winds Japan) criticism of the government; this was reported in the Asahi Shinbun (Asahi Shinbun 9 February 2002). According to the newspaper, he said that the okami (the government) only intended on issuing a rallying cry, and that was their goal. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs judged that his criticism had hurt their confidence. Thus, it rejected the participation of the NGOs. However, even now we are not aware of the truth, particularly, whether there was pressure from Suzuki on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Onishi Kensuke testified as an unsworn witness at the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors on 4 March 2002. Although he mentioned that Suzuki pressured the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Asahi Shinbun 5 March 2003a, The House of Councillors 4 March 2002), Kawaguchi Yoriko (the Foreign Minister succeeding Tanaka Makiko) and Shigeie Toshinori (the Director of Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) denied Onishi's response.
On 12 February 2002, Kawaguchi announced that the Foreign Ministry intended to eliminate inappropriate pressure from politicians (Harada 2002: 186). Moreover, she organized a deliberation council (kaerukai). This reiterated the elimination of inappropriate pressure (Gaimushō kaikaku ni kansuru 'kaerukai' 2002). However, it involves a critical defect. How will the Foreign Ministry eliminate pressure without acknowledging the fact of the pressure exerted by Suzuki Muneo? In brief, the deliberation council was a means by which the Japanese people were misled into believing that the Foreign Ministry intended to change.
Moreover, we can say that the Japanese mass media revelled in the problem. Tanaka, Suzuki, and Nogami were victims of the Japanese mass media. By discussing the disturbance they offered a topic which the media could use to connect with the Japanese people. The author has already studied this problem of the Japanese mass media (Ito 2003a).
2.2 Jimujikan Kaigi
On 6 January 2003, Koizumi attended the jimujikan kaigi and indicated three issues of concern (Mainichi Shinbun Homepage 6 January 2003):
Participation in this meeting was not the first for Koizumi. He had first attended the jimujikan kaigi as the Prime Minister on 7 May 2001 (Sankei Shinbun seijibu 2001: 47) after he became the Prime Minister on 26 April 2001. Thus, he attended the jimujikan kaigi only eleven days after assuming office. This fact reveals that he gave the meeting considerable importance.
As Karel van Wolferen mentions, the jimujikan kaigi is evidence revealing that the bureaucrats also possess political power. However, we cannot conclude that the bureaucrats take the initiative in Japanese politics. Calder mentions that there are two viewpoints; that the bureaucrats are powerful and autonomous in making policy decisions and that, on the contrary, they are incapacitated (Calder 1989: 98). The jimujikan kaigi itself produces these opposing viewpoints.
Further, the question of why Koizumi attended the meeting arises. Perhaps, he had made up his mind to try to control the bureaucrats. In other words, maybe he wanted to make the meeting his means of kōzō kaikaku. In fact, he has insisted that the jimujikan kaigi should fulfil its function by which the cabinet lets administrative leaders know of its policies (Mainichi Shinbun Homepage 30 September 2003). In other words, he intended to change the teikō seiryoku into kyōryoku seiryoku. Perhaps, he knew that he could not work without the cooperation of the bureaucrats. Indeed, he did not intend to support the bureaucracy but to exploit it.
However, his attendance at the meeting was an instance of a proverb, 'miira tori ga miira ni naru' (go for wool and come home shorn). If he really wanted to change Japanese politics, at least, he did not have to attend the meeting and further he could have disbanded it. However, Koizumi may want to argue in reply. Firstly, he has written a book that insisted on disbanding the bureaucracy (Koizumi 1996). Secondly, the LDP's national strategy headquarters, which was lead by Koizumi, has proposed to abolish the jimujikan kaigi (The LDP's National Strategy Headquarters). However, this was done without mentioning the person responsible, the time and the method of disbandment.
There exists another problem. Only the Mainichi Shinbun reported the news of Koizumi's attendance at the jimujikan kaigi and this revealed that the Japanese mass media does not monitor Japanese politics properly. Thus, the Japanese people cannot know what occurred in the honne of Japanese politics. They can know only its tatemae, meaning 'the public display of politics'; for example, elections, the personnel appointments of Cabinet members, the pretend battle between Koizumi and the teikō seiryoku, and so on. This was indeed a 'pretend battle' because they did not intend to disband the 'old LDP' but to maintain its power by pretending to disband it.
3 What cultivated the image that Koizumi was a promoter of kōzō kaikaku?
This section explains the events which cultivated the image that Koizumi was a promoter of kōzō kaikaku. It presents two cases. The first was the Kumamoto District Court's ruling on the Hansen's disease case in 2001. The Koizumi Cabinet announced a statement made by the government deciding not to appeal to a higher court (Asahi Shinbun 24 May 2001a). The second case was Koizumi's electrifying visit to North Korea in 2002. Koizumi met Kim Jong Il and held talks with him regarding the alleged abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea. During the meeting, North Korea revealed the status of the 14 Japanese people who were considered abducted (Asahi Shinbun 18 September 2002). Certainly, these were the apparent achievements of the Koizumi Cabinet. However, they were really the results of the LDP's long term misgovernment. Therefore, Koizumi's accomplishments were actually achieved by the LDP's maladministration.
3.1 Three common points
There are three common points between the Hansen's disease case and Koizumi's visit to North Korea.
The first case was the Hansen's disease case.
26 April 2001: Inauguration of the Koizumi Cabinet
The second case was Koizumi's visit to North Korea (Imazato 2002: 226).
24 and 25 August 2002: 43 percent
It may be noted that the author does not believe in the accuracy of approval ratings because they cannot investigate the real intentions of the people (Ito 2003a). They can only assess their superficial views. However, Koizumi believed in them. This is because he could enhance the illusion of kōzō kaikaku with the high approval ratings. He used the ratings as weapons against the teikō seiryoku.
However, he would not have been concerned with the ratings at all times. Instead, it was only before an election that he concerned himself with them. In other words, his actions were a method for him to survive elections. In this way, Ito Mitsutoshi mentions that we can interpret the sudden increase of the approval rating as a cause of the high levels of achievement (Muramatsu et. al. 2001: 153). Indeed, Koizumi may even have read his book. However, it is not necessarily the case that the high approval ratings for the cabinet are responsible for the LDP winning seats in the elections. However, Koizumi purposely used the high approval ratings prior to elections (Oshita 2002: 58-59). An LDP poster that showed his face in close-up proves this. Not only these events but also the Koizumi Cabinet e-mail magazine and the town meetings projected this illusion (Asahi Shinbun 14 June 2001, Asahi Shinbun 17 June 2001, Koizumi naikaku mēru magajin). The number of enrolments for the e-mail magazine was seven hundred thousand as at 8 p.m. on 14 June 2001. This number reveals the subscribers' expectations for the success of Koizumi's kōzō kaikaku.
3.2 The Kumamoto District Court Ruling for the Hansen's Disease Case in 2001
Plaintiffs, the former Hansen's disease patients, sued the Japanese Government for their forced isolation policy. On 11 May 2001, in the judgment passed by the Kumamoto District Court, the plaintiffs won their lawsuit. The settlement amounted to one billion eight hundred million yen in this case against the Japanese government.
The problem now was whether the government would appeal to a higher court within 14 days subsequent to the judgment, i.e., by 25 May 2001. After the judgment, the bureaucrats of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry of Justice feared that this case might lead to other trials suing them for their omissions. According to the Asahi Shinbun, the leading members of the Ministry of Justice opined that they had to implement suitable measures for relief; however, they could not accept the finalization of the judgment (Asahi Shinbun 19 May 2001). Therefore, they asked Aso Taro (Chairperson, Policy Research Council of the LDP), Fukuda Yasuo (the Chief Cabinet Secretary), and others, to appeal to the higher court. Sakaguchi Chikara (the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare) was also asked to do the same. Here, the Asahi Shinbun does not report the names of the persons who asked Aso, Fukuda, and Sakaguchi to appeal. This is an example which further reveals the absence of kōzō in the honne of Japanese Politics since accountability has not been acknowledged in the discussions on this case. On 22 May, according to the Asahi Shinbun, an opinion that the government should appeal to the higher court had a majority in the LDP Health, Labor and Welfare Division (Asahi Shinbun 22 May 2001 (Evening Edition)). It may be noted that the Asahi Shinbun does not disclose their names again.
On 23 May, the deadline for an appeal was only two days away. Koizumi met the plaintiffs and heard them (Shushō Kantei 23 May 2001a). They asked Koizumi not to appeal against the decision of the Kumamoto District Court. The government decided not to appeal to the higher court that same day (Shushō Kantei 23 May 2001b). It was determined by Prime Minister Koizumi, Fukuda, Sakaguchi, Moriyama Mayumi (the Minister of Justice), and the Secretary-Generals of the three Government parties, the LDP, the New Komeito, and the Conservative Party.
Accordingly, it may seem that there was kōzō in Japanese politics because the cabinet made the decision. However, this cannot be concluded because the cabinet, in fact, paid heed to the sentiments of the bureaucrats. When the government decided not to enter an appeal against the judgment on 23 May, Koizumi and Fukuda mentioned 'the extremely exceptional decision'. Koizumi repeatedly mentioned after two days that he had resolved to ensure the extremely exceptional decision that the Japanese Government would not appeal the ruling of the Kumamoto District Court (Koizumi 25 May 2001). This phrase that 'the Government of Japan has decided the extremely exceptional decision not to appeal the ruling' also appeared in the Government Statement on 25 May (Shushō Kantei 25 May 2001). This was done to alleviate the anxiety of the bureaucrats. As mentioned above, the bureaucrats feared that this case could spiral into other trials. However, this statement weakened the effect. This episode also revealed that the cabinet did not entirely assume the political initiative and therefore did not entirely assume responsibility for it.
3.3 Koizumi's electrifying visit to North Korea in 2002
On 30 May 2002, Fukuda, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, suddenly announced Koizumi's visit to North Korea for a meeting with Kim Jong Il on 17 September 2002 in order to resolve some problems between Japan and North Korea, meaning: the alleged abductions by North Korea, the unidentified ship problem, the missile problem, and so on (Asahi Shinbun 30 August 2002 (Evening Edition), Shushō Kantei 30 August 2002). The preceding Prime Ministers of Japan had never visited North Korea. This was the first time that a Japanese Prime Minister had visited the country. Even Nonaka Hiromu, a member of the teikō seiryoku, appreciated Koizumi's visit.
Koizumi stated that the government negotiations with North Korea were carried under stringent secrecy measures; therefore, he could not reveal the content of the discussions (Asahi Shinbun 31 August 2002). He probably feared that 'the magic' would disappear if the news of his visit to North Korea had surfaced before the government announcement. Perhaps Koizumi kept the media from revealing it. He desired a strong impact on the Japanese people since he wanted a high approval rating before the unified by-election. As mentioned in Section 2.1, the approval rating for the Koizumi Cabinet deteriorated after Koizumi promoted Kawaguchi Yoriko over Tanaka Makiko, a popular politician. If the LDP had lost the election, Koizumi might have been dislodged from the post of Prime Minister by the teikō seiryoku Nonaka Hiromu and Koga Makoto. Thus, it was necessary for him to raise his approval rating. Koizumi set his stakes on the visit to North Korea in order to achieve this. Fortunately, North Korea cooperated with this gamble.
Although Koizumi had an opportunity, he had not yet won the gamble because he had not resolved the problems, particularly, that of the alleged abductions by North Korea. In addition, the more the families of the victims hoped to achieve from his visit to North Korea, the greater was the risk that he faced. If North Korea had not acknowledged the allegations, the Japanese might have been disappointed with Koizumi and he may have lost the post of Prime Minister. Thus, his success depended on North Korea's attitude.
On 17 September, Kim Jong Il acknowledged the facts of the abduction and apologized to Japan. North Korea announced the status of fourteen Japanese people. According to the announcement, eight people had died, five people were alive, and North Korea insisted that the last person had not entered the country (Asahi Shinbun 18 September 2002). The announcement shocked the Japanese people. In any case, Koizumi proceeded with the negotiations. On 8 October, North Korea announced that five abductees (Mr. and Mrs. Chimura, Mr. and Mrs. Hasuike, and Ms. Soga Hitomi) could return to Japan (Asahi Shinbun 9 October 2002). Indeed, they returned to Japan on 15 October (Asahi Shinbun 16 October 2002). Koizumi was fortunate because the LDP could win the election due to North Korea's cooperation. His gamble paid favorable returns.
This paper has suggested the structural construction, or kōzō kōchiku, of Japanese politics as an alternative to Koizumi's stated aim of its structural reform, or kōzō kaikaku. Furthermore, it has indicated that there was a sanctuary in Koizumi's kōzō kaikaku. This was Japanese politics itself, particularly in the case of the LDP.
Koizumi was re-elected at the LDP presidential election in 2003 due to the illusion of kōzō kaikaku proceeding (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 20 September 2003). After the presidential election, Koizumi appointed Abe Shinzo as the LDP Secretary-General (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 22 September 2003). This appointment further raised the approval rating of Koizumi's new cabinet. According to the Asahi Shinbun, the approval rating of the cabinet increased from 49 percent (23 and 24 August 2003, Asahi Shinbun Homepage 24 August 2003) to 59 percent (23 and 24 September 2003, Asahi Shinbun Homepage 25 September 2003) due to Abe's appointment. However, this was a strange phenomenon because Abe did not hold a cabinet position but an LDP position. Thus, one could suggest that Abe's appointment promoted the illusion of kōzō kaikaku. It implies that Japanese politics was still in its sanctuary. It may be noted that Abe was appointed before the election of the House of Representatives in 2003. The LDP survived the election due to Abe's appointment (they won 237 seats as opposed to 233 at the former election) (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 10 November 2003).
Japanese politics requires modification (JSAC 2003). Certainly, it is kōzō kōchiku that involves concrete change. This paper has defined the term kōzō kōchiku as having two meanings, i.e., to assume the responsibility for action (Responsibility) and responsibility to account for action (Accountability). How, then, can Japanese politics achieve kōzō kōchiku? Certain ideas surface, for instance, the abolition of the jimujikan kaigi, the splitting of the LDP, a change of government, and so on. However, this paper considers that there is no direct solution for kōzō kōchiku in Japanese politics because Japanese politics is a very complicated system. 'Altering such a tightly coupled system is like working with a Rubik's cube - one turn leads to many other adjustments' (JSAC 2003).
Unfortunately, it may only be sufficient to study the reality of Japanese politics, for example, as done in this paper. In other words, one should remain conscious of Japanese politics. This in itself may become an indirect, but a crucial solution for kōzō kōchiku.
Nevertheless, and on a more humourous note, since Prime Minister Koizumi is such a keen advocate of the privatization of state assets (Koizumi and Kajiwara 1994), the author has an excellent idea, and that is the privatization of the cabinet, ministries and government offices, the diet and courts. An advantage to privatization of the government could be that, for example, if Koizumi was deemed unsuitable for the post of Prime Minister of Japan, it might be a good idea for the Japanese to select Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan as Prime Minister instead!
1 This is a revised edition of a Japan Studies Association of Canada (JSAC) 2003 Annual Conference Paper (Ito 2003b).
2 Iwai defines the words zoku giin as middle (or higher) ranking assemblypersons who have considerable constant influence on a specific field of policy (Iwai 2002). According to the Nihon Keizai Shinbun (Nihon Keizai Shinbun seijibu 1994), the term zoku giin was coined for the first time by that newspaper (Nihon Keizai Shinbun 1994: 202). See Inoguchi and Iwai (1987) and Sato and Matsuzaki (1986) for further discussions on zoku giin.
3 See, The House of Representatives (14 May 2001) and Sataka (2001: 34-36). Details of political funds are provided in Koga (2004).
Each habatsu still collected money for political activities after Koizumi became the Prime Minister (Asahi Shinbun 24 December 2003). The Hashimoto faction case is particularly noteworthy. The Asahi Shinbun reports that the Hashimoto faction received a check for 100 million yen from the Japan Dental Association's political body around June 2001 (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 15 July 2004a). This was before the upper house election. It was alleged that this donation was against the political funds control law. According to the Asahi Shinbun, the former Prime Minister, Hashimoto Ryutaro received it directly. However, he stated that he did not remember receiving it (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 15 July 2004b). The Asahi Shinbun states that the members of the Hashimoto faction, Nonaka Hiromu and Aoki Mikio were also present during the exchange of money (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 17 July 2004).
Hashimoto decided that he would resign as the chairperson of the Hashimoto faction and left it in order to take responsibility for the scandal. He also decided that he would not run for his electoral district in the next election of the House of Representatives. However, he implied that he might run for the proportional representation constituency in the election if he received support from the LDP (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 30 July 2004).
Takigawa Toshiyuki, the former treasurer of the Hashimoto faction, and Muraoka Kanezo, the former Chief Cabinet Secretary, were prosecuted for the illicit political donation. However, Hashimoto, Nonaka and Aoki were not (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 18 September 2004, Asahi Shinbun Homepage 26 September 2004). Takigawa was sentenced to ten months in prison with a four-year stay of execution (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 3 December 2004).
On 30 November 2004, Hashimoto attended the session of the Lower House Deliberative Council on Political Ethics. He admitted that he received the check. He said, 'I think it was a fact.' However, he denied his involvement in the omission of the check from the government's report on political funds (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 30 November 2004). This is the honne of Japanese politics, i.e., no kozo (no Responsibility and no Accountability).
4 See Koizumi (1996: 50-53). Curtis also writes that not abolishing the medium-sized electoral district system but redrawing boundaries to rectify district imbalances was required to reform the Japanese electoral system (Curtis 2001: 138-143).
5 However, he interrupted the coup d'etat by Kato Koichi and Yamazaki Taku as the leader of the Mori faction when they planned to approve the Democratic Party of Japan's no-confidence motion against the Mori Cabinet (Oshita 2001: 5-153, Oshita 2003: 205-279). Koizumi cooperated with his political opponent Nonaka Hiromu in protecting the Mori Cabinet (Oshita 2001: 82-83). According to Asakawa, this episode reveals that Koizumi understood what 'giri ninjō' (justice and humanity) were (Asakawa 2001: 18-19).
6 See Wada and Ariga (2002: 61-62). Horiuchi, in particular, criticized Koizumi's economic policy (Oshita 2004: 267 and 279-280, Horiuchi 2003). However, Horiuchi tackled the abolition of the Japan National Oil Corporation (Oshita 2002: 66-79 and 358-361, Horiuchi 1998, Horiuchi 2000, Horiuchi 2001, Horiuchi and Inose 2002). This corresponded with Koizumi's policy.
7 Sataka also points out that Koizumi supported the LDP by becoming the President (2001: 50).
8 See Wada and Ariga (2002: 68-69). However, Sataka indicates that Toyama and Kawaguchi were former bureaucrats rather than citizens. Toyama was a bureaucrat of the Ministry of Education and Kawaguchi was a bureaucrat of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Sataka 2001: 13).
9 Okada Katsuya of the Democratic Party of Japan has indicated that personnel appointments of both Administrative Vice-Ministers and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers revealed a balance among factions (The House of Representatives 14 May 2001).
10 See Asahi Shinbun (10 September 2003). Perhaps this case was Nonaka's self-destruction.
11 According to Iwase, the bureaucrats often ask a newspaper desk not to report their real names (2001: 104-105).
12 Certainly, there were some exceptions. For example, Nihon Keizai Shinbun (1994) and Yomiuri Shinbun seijibu (2001).
13 See Asahi Shinbun (21 January 2002). To state precisely, Japan Platform was not a NGO. It was a system that consisted of 16 NGOs. It also received cooperation from Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Harada 2002: 6-8). Its supreme decision-making body was a council. It was comprised of five members; two members from the NGOs, a staff member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a member of Keidanren, a staff member of a foundation, and a scholar.
14 See Asahi Shinbun (22 January 2002a (Evening Edition) and Asahi Shinbun (22 January 2002b (Evening Edition)). However, the government officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs might have had an objection. After the 9/11 terror attack on New York, an emergency evacuation location used by the US Department of State was to be maintained secret, however Tanaka Makiko announced it to the press. They recognized that she often made indiscreet remarks on account of this problem. Thus, they learned that they could not disclose any information to her (Otake 2003: 170-171).
15 He also served as Chief Director of Japan Platform (Harada 2002: 5-6).
16 The Asahi Shinbun did not report his name. However, according to Harada's book, he was Shigeie Toshinori, the director of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Harada 2002: 4-5).
17 See Asahi Shinbun (30 January 2002a). Suzuki also resigned from the LDP's post of the Chairperson of Special Committee on External Economic Cooperation (Asahi Shinbun 4 February 2002b (Evening Edition)).
18 See Kodansha (1993: 773). On the contrary, according to Heibonsha's Sekai Daihyakka Jiten CD-ROM version, kenka ryōseibai dates back to Aokata Monjo of Goto Rettō in 1414. The author has already studied kenka ryōseibai based on Jungian psychology (Ito 2003a).
19 My italics.
20 However, Onishi witnessed that the okami meant the United Nations and not the Japanese Government, at the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors on 4 March 2002 (The House of Councillors 4 March 2002).
21 See Asahi Shinbun (5 March 2003b) and Asahi Shinbun (6 March 2003). Harada verifies this problem. According to him, Suzuki pressured the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Harada 2002: 4-5).
22 Karel van Wolferen explains this role of deliberation councils (1990: 257-258).
23 Kitazawa mentions that this custom constitutes amakudari (descent from heaven) (2002: 277-280).
24 See van Wolferen (2001: 51-52) and Kan (1998: 32-36). Mikuni and Murphy write that even this meeting is at a stage of direction. Each ministry and each government office decide their tasks without negotiation with other ministries and government offices (Mikuni and Murphy 2002: 333). On the other hand, the bureaucrats do not assume Responsibility (and Accountability). Kitazawa indicates that there is no description regarding the location of Responsibility on the act of incorporation of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (2002: 227-239).
25 There is a similar episode in Japanese history. After World War II, the allied forces did not intend to support the Japanese political form, but to exploit it. Tsuji indicates that they might have intended to exploit Japanese bureaucracy (1969: 273). This could be a case of history repeating itself.
26 Yomiuri Shinbun reported another jimujikan kaigi (Yomiuri Shinbun 5 February 2002).
27 Oshita writes that the Mori Cabinet negotiated with North Korea in secret (Oshita 2002: 503-515). Koizumi took it over.
28 'Kurushii toki no "henjin" danomi' (a man turns into 'an eccentric person' only when he is in trouble) may be a suitable expression. Koizumi was nicknamed 'henjin' (変人 - an eccentric person) by Tanaka Makiko (Ogata 2001: 34-35). However, hinting at another possible meaning for the term 'henjin' Koizumi insisted that the word 'henjin' meant simply a person who changed Japan (Ogata 2001: 98-99).
29 Some readers may point out that the formation of the cabinet (particularly, Foreign Minister Tanaka Makiko's personnel affairs) was also responsible for the image that Koizumi was the promoter of kōzō kaikaku because the Japanese people thought that Koizumi ignored political factions. See Section 1.
30 See Asahi Shinbun (11 May 2001 (Evening Edition)). The complete text of the judgment is provided in Kaiho shuppansha ed. (2001).
31 See Section 1.
32 See Shushō Kantei (23 May 2001b) and Asahi Shinbun (24 May 2001b). My italics.
33 My italics.
34 My italics.
35 Koizumi decided to visit North Korea and to meet Kim Jong Il again on 22 May 2004. He announced it suddenly only a week before the visit (Asahi Shinbun 15 May 2004). His purpose was to break the stalemate on the abduction issue. Although the former abductees (Mr. and Mrs. Chimura, Mr. and Mrs. Hasuike and Ms. Soga Hitomi) returned to Japan due to Koizumi's first visit to North Korea, their families were left behind in North Korea. Moreover, other abductees were still missing. As a result of the meeting, he could bring five children of the former abductees (Mr. and Mrs. Chimura and Mr. and Mrs. Hasuike) back to Japan on the same day (Asahi Shinbun 23 May 2004).
Koizumi announced this visit before an election again. Its timing posed a problem. It was approximately two months before the election of the House of Councillors (the announcement of his second visit: 22 May 2004, the voting day: 11 July 2004). His first visit to North Korea in 2002, was also announced approximately two months before the unified by-election (the announcement of his first visit: 30 August 2002, the voting day: 27 October 2002). This similarity was not a pure coincidence. It was obvious that Koizumi got the timing right in consideration of the elections. He judged that this was appropriate timing in order to carry the elections.
According to the Asahi Shinbun, the approval rating for the Koizumi Cabinet increased from 45 percent (15 and 16 May 2004) (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 16 May 2004) to 54 percent (23 May 2004) (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 23 May 2004). However, the rating suddenly fell at a subsequent survey of public opinion, 40 percent (19 and 20 June 2004) (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 21 June 2004). On the other hand, the disapproval rating exceeded the approval rating by approximately two percent. The primary causes were the pension system reform and the dispatch of the SDF (Self-Defense Forces) to a multinational force in Iraq. These were expected to become the primary issues of the election (Asahi Shinbun Homepage 10 July 2004).
Thus, his second visit to North Korea did not become a shot in the arm for this election. The Koizumi Cabinet gave four shots in the arm (Asahi Shinbun 7 July 2004b).
The first shot was a reduction in expressway tolls. Koizumi announced this on 3 July, i.e., eight days before the election. He intended to mark the tolls down by 10 percent from Autumn 2004 (Asahi Shinbun 4 July 2004). Iwamura Satoshi, the Vice-Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport also mentioned this (Asahi Shinbun 6 July 2004a). However, Ishihara Nobuteru, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport corrected Koizumi's speech on 6 July. He said that the prices were intended to decrease from the next Spring (Asahi Shinbun 6 July 2004b).
The second shot was the family reunion of Ms. Soga Hitomi (Mainichi Shinbun 6 July 2004). She was one of the abductees of North Korea. She could return to Japan because of Koizumi's first visit to North Korea. However, her husband, Mr. Charles Robert Jenkins and her two daughters were still in North Korea. They could not go to Japan when Koizumi visited North Korea again in 2004 because Mr. Jenkins was a deserter from the US armed forces during the Korean War. If he were to arrive in Japan, the Japanese Government would have had to hand over him to the US. Thus, they could not visit Japan and meet Ms. Soga. The Koizumi Cabinet negotiated with North Korea regarding their reunion in a third country that was under no obligation to extradite a deserter to the US. It was eventually decided that they could meet in Indonesia on 5 July, i.e., six days before the election (Asahi Shinbun 6 July 2004c). After four days, i.e., 9 July (two days before the election), they were reunited in Indonesia (Asahi Shinbun 10 July 2004).
The third shot was a reform of the Social Insurance Agency. It was clear that the Agency wasted insurance premiums and leaked personal information. Thus, the cabinet decided to appoint a civilian, Murase Kiyoshi, as the chief of the Social Insurance Agency on 6 July, i.e., five days before the election (Asahi Shinbun 7 July 2004a).
The fourth shot was a problem regarding the residence status of a Thai girl. She had lost her parents in Thailand. She came to Japan as a dependent of her grandmother in Japan. Although the Tokyo Immigration Bureau did not permit her immigration, Nozawa Daizo, the Minister of Justice suggested to the Tokyo Immigration Bureau to allow her stay on 6 July, i.e., five days before the election (Asahi Shinbun 7 July 2004c).
Finally, let us consider the results of the election. The Asahi Shinbun writes 'Jimin haiboku' (the LDP lost) (Asahi Shinbun 12 July 2004). However, this is not correct because it was not the LDP but the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) that lost. The LDP only lost one seat (the number of successful candidates: 49 seats, the number of seats up for re-election: 50 seats). On the other hand, the JCP lost 11 seats (the number of successful candidates: 4 seats, the number of seats up for re-election: 15 seats). It could not win in any electoral district and it could only capture the seats in the proportional-representation constituencies.
Let us now consider the other opposition party. The DPJ captured 12 additional seats (the number of successful candidates: 50 seats, the number of seats up for of re-election: 38 seats). Thus, it deprived the JCP of seats. In other words, an opposition party that could not appeal to its ability to hold the reins of government was defeated by the other opposition party that could demonstrate it. Therefore, the Asahi Shinbun should have reported 'Kyōsan haiboku' (the JCP lost) or with 'the LDP' as the subject it would have had to report 'Jimin zensen' (the LDP fought well).
36 Even after the reorganization of the government ministries in 2001, the jimujikan kaigi continues (van Wolferen 2001: 51-52).
37 Curtis mentions that a split in the LDP would cause the end of LDP rule (Curtis 1987: 268). In fact, Ozawa Ichiro and Hata Tsutomu split the LDP (Curtis 2001: 93). After the election of the House of Representatives in 1993, the LDP became a non-governing party and the Hosokawa Administration made a start (Curtis 2001: 113). However, Curtis mentions that not change, but continuity was a characteristic of the election because incumbents won regardless of the parties. This means that the Japanese voters did not await the change (Curtis 2001: 101).
After approximately a year, the LDP became the governing party again. The LDP formed an alliance with the Japan Socialist Party (JSP) and the Sakigake in order to form a government (Curtis 2001: 189-193). This shows that the LDP's goal was to maintain its power without any change because not the LDP but the JSP had changed. The JSP accepted the Self-Defense Forces and the Japan-US Security Treaty (Curtis 2001: 200).
Asahi Shinbun 11 May 2001 (Evening Edition), 'Hansenbyō kakuri wa iken', Asahi Shinbun, 11 May 2001 (Evening Edition): 1.
Copyright: Takuya Ito
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