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Yosano calls on his fellow ministers to behave

by Hiroko Nakata

In the aftermath of farm minister Takehiko Endo’s resignation Monday, only a week after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his Cabinet, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano called on his colleagues to behave appropriately in their positions as government ministers.

Asked what the government should do to cope with its lack of crisis management ability, Yosano said in a recent interview, “Each Cabinet member needs to make actions and comments based on judgment worthy of a minister.”

Following Endo’s resignation, Yosano also told a news conference that the government needs to consider a better system to detect missteps that could cause scandals, although he did not outline the details of such a system.

Before announcing the new Cabinet lineup, Abe and his aides checked all available documents and media reports involving possible candidates for new Cabinet roles. However, even such close scrutiny did not shed light on all of the candidates’ problems, according to Yosano.

Endo resigned over a scandal connected to an agricultural mutual aid association that he headed, which allegedly improperly received government subsidies.

Yosano, a 69-year-old veteran lawmaker, reportedly played a major role in persuading Endo to step down swiftly, aiming to limit the damage to the new Cabinet.

Yosano also touched on revitalizing local economies but said the government would not return to the Liberal Democratic Party’s former policy of distributing subsidies to local governments for public works. Instead, the government needs to consider various steps that will fit each district, he said.

“When thinking about rural areas, we have to think about agriculture, fishery and forestry industries in those areas,” Yosano said, adding the government should consider supporting existing industries, try to attract new industries and build the necessary infrastructure in rural areas.

Yosano, however, criticized the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan, whose manifesto pledged to finance farmers in the event of a drop in product prices, a proposal that would be worth about ¥1 trillion. The DPJ says the amount can be raised by cutting corners on the budget.

Yosano, who has advocated a consumption tax hike to cap the mounting budgetary deficit, hinted that the country will need to consider such a tax hike. He also argued that Japan should have a national debate over how much welfare is necessary.