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Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.26 (April 10, 2008) ============================================================

"Contorted Diet. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Yasuo FukudaProfile Japanese

Contorted Diet. This is Yasuo Fukuda.

Yesterday, Mr. Masaaki Shirakawa assumed the office of Governor of the Bank of Japan, a post that had been vacant for some time. Mr. Shirakawa, who was appointed a Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan last month, had been serving as the acting Governor. As a first-rate individual who has spent his entire career with the Bank of Japan, he enjoys the strong confidence of the financial community and the markets.

Immediately following his appointment, Mr. Shirakawa will be attending a G7 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Washington, D.C. from tomorrow. I trust that as the head of the Bank of Japan he will make a substantial contribution to the discussions as to how the nations involved will cooperate in dealing with various issues, including the sub-prime loan problem.

Meanwhile, the Government's proposal to appoint Mr. Hiroshi Watanabe as the successor to Mr. Shirakawa as a Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan has not been met with the consent of the House of Councillors, which is controlled by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

Mr. Watanabe previously served for three years as the Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, during which time he oversaw Japan's concerted efforts alongside other countries to ensure the development of the world economy and the stabilization of the financial markets. He is the right candidate to become a Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan -- an individual with a long track record in departments concerned with international finance, as well as a wealth of insight and a broad international network of personal connections.

Apparently, the DPJ decided against approving Mr. Watanabe on the ground that he comes from the Ministry of Finance.

The most important thing should not be where he has pursued his career, but rather whether or not he is qualified to be a Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan. I suppose that the DPJ's decision surprised markets all over the world, once again.

Take the members of the Diet for example. There are plenty of former civil servants among them who are now demonstrating their abilities as Diet members. This must surely be the result of voters having not only assessed the candidates' personal histories, but also having decided that these candidates were in fact well suited to serve as their representatives.

Whether it be a Diet member or a central bank official, we should not waver from selecting a person responsible for the people's lives on the basis of actual qualities and abilities: I do not accept that a person's suitability should ever be determined merely by personal history.

Yesterday afternoon, during the party leaders' debate at the Diet, I asked DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa about this matter and his true intentions, but he just kept repeating his reason for rejecting Mr. Watanabe: the DPJ cannot accept anyone from the Ministry of Finance.

At present, the DPJ is the leading party in the House of Councillors. Accordingly, the DPJ is also responsible for the people's lives as the decision-maker in the House of Councillors.

In the deliberations on the new anti-terrorism special measures law, the DPJ did not make their decision in the House of Councillors for about two months. Moreover, as of the middle of April, no conclusion has been reached on the revenue bill for this fiscal year that includes the stipulation on revenue sources for roads, the deliberations of which had been withheld in the House of Councillors for over a month.

What we see now is politics being dragged out as long as possible so that nothing is decided, and the politics of nothing but vetoing.

To continue political conflict taking into account only the short-term political situation while remaining indifferent to the people's interest is just an abuse of the power that comes from being the leading party in the House of Councillors.

From the viewpoint of the people, this contorted situation in which the ruling coalition commands a majority in the House of Representatives while the opposition parties have control of the House of Councillors is no good reason in and of itself for the creation of a political logjam.

I am prepared to hold discussions with the opposition parties on any issue, and I will earnestly continue to make my utmost efforts under the current Diet situation, so that we will be able to reach a conclusion that is in the people's best interest.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matushige Oono
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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