Abe to keep bureaucrat out of key post

by Hiroko Nakata

In a bid to beef up the power of politicians, Shinzo Abe will not appoint an active bureaucrat to a key position in the prime minister’s office that has been considered the top bureaucratic position in the entire country, a close aide to Abe said Monday night.

Abe, set to be elected prime minister Tuesday, will announce his Cabinet lineup later in the day.

Above all, he will not appoint an active bureaucrat as one of three deputy chief Cabinet secretaries. Usually, a bureaucrat holds one of these jobs, and politicians hold the other two. Instead, he will pick a private-sector expert on government administration for that position, the aide said.

The administrative deputy chief Cabinet secretary is the linchpin of the prime minister’s office, serving as the main coordinator of the flow of information and policy proposals from ministries to the prime minister.

The aide did not disclose the name of the appointee but said the person has worked in the private sector for nearly 10 years and has a career history as a bureaucrat.

“We will not reserve any seat for bureaucrats any more,” the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

As part of the steps to reinforce the power of the Cabinet, Abe will also appoint five special advisers for the prime minister in such fields as national security, education reform, abductions by North Korea, economic and fiscal policy, and public relations.

As Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi leaves office, he has two special advisers, both retired senior ministry officials. One has been in charge of urban reconstruction and the other postal reform.