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Diet does away with contentious nominee rule

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The ruling and opposition parities agreed Tuesday to revoke a self-imposed restriction on how nominees for key government positions are endorsed, moving a step closer for the administration to propose a new Bank of Japan governor and vice governors.

The Diet affairs chiefs of the ruling and opposition parties agreed to abolish the rule under which nominees are withdrawn if their names are leaked to and reported in the media in advance.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga welcomed the move, saying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will decide on his BOJ nominees after he returns Sunday from a trip to Washington.

“Until now, we were unable to consult with either ruling or opposition parties” unofficially on who the government will nominate for key positions, Suga told a news conference. “(The agreement) will allow us to freely do things like that.”

The rule was established in 2007 to prevent the government from leaking information and affecting endorsement decisions by the Diet. The opposition bloc was accused of abusing the rule to block appointments for key positions.

Abe has called for aggressive credit-easing policies and has promised to appoint a BOJ governor who supports his ideas on financial affairs.

The administration needs the endorsement of both the Upper and Lower Houses to fill certain key positions, including BOJ governor and chairman of the Fair Trade Commission.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito were pushing to do away with the rule because it was hamstringing them in picking the new BOJ leadership, a matter made more pressing because current Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa has said he will step down a few weeks early, on March 19, as that is when the two vice governors will leave.

According to the agreement reached Tuesday, the Diet will demand the government investigate future leaks and report to the Diet if nominees are reported by the media in advance.