Unpopular PM reshuffles cabinet in effort to save reputation
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Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, extremely unpopular in the polls, announced new replacements in his new cabinet today. But will it save him?
Fukuda, who took over as prime minister in September 2007 after the resignation of Shinzo Abe, is extremely unpopular in Japanese opinion polls. “His approval rating is less than 20%,” says
Fukuda’s decision to reorganize his cabinet is partly an effort to counter his reputation as an economy killer.
“The finance ministry is incompetent and doesn’t want reforms,” says Charles. Fukuda’s main targets in the new personnel are the Finance and Economic ministers, though experts feel this is just a placebo that may not help Fukuda at all.
According to Charles, the Liberal Democratic Party’s plan has been to raise taxes with the aim of reducing national debt – but at the expense of growth. “The business powers are calling for the opposition to take power,” said Charles. “This hasn’t happened since the Second World War, except for a brief period in the 1990s.”
In addition, Japan’s national debt is 180% of the GDP, says Charles, “the highest in the world,” while the nation’s financial burdens are worsened by the country’s negative population growth, and its corollary, an increasingly aging population requiring retirement and health benefits.
The latter problem is made even more complicated by a bewildering disappearance of 50 million retirement files, according to Charles. “The files started to disappear when the manual filing process was transferred to computers. They didn’t know how to use computers and everything disappeared. It’s been a big cover up scandal over the last 20 years.”
But who’s at fault?
Much of the rancor aimed at Fukuda is rooted in circumstances that predate his term. Part of the reason for
You call that a recession?
But what does a “recession” mean in a nation that still has the world’s second strongest economy? According to Charles, “It’s a paradox.
Fukuda’s tax-raising scheme will do little to help, believes Charles. “You can’t just raise taxes; you have to raise productivity.”
Charles doesn't think the reshuffle will save Fukuda. His new appointments are still from his party, still from “the old guard who are in their 60s and 70s—barons of the party.” What motivates the party’s decision, says Charles, “is that they just want to stay in power for another half century.”
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