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A legal revision is needed to give the prime minister more authority in actively guiding Cabinet discussions on important issues, members of a government blue-ribbon panel on administrative reform agreed July 30.

During a meeting of a subcommittee of the Administrative Reform Council, members agreed to revise Article 4 of the Cabinet Law to enable the prime minister to directly make suggestions on policy-related matters during Cabinet meetings.

In reality, Cabinet meetings are mere ceremonies in which the ministers give the nod to almost anything that has already been decided during prior meetings by administrative vice ministers, who make decisions only by consensus. The prime minister’s role is passive as well, according to the current form of the article, being only responsible for supervising the meetings, which are held at the request of Cabinet ministers. Whether the prime minister can actively propose discussion of a policy-related matter at a Cabinet meeting is not clearly stated in current Cabinet laws.

So if objections are brought up on the administrative side, ministers are not be able to make decisions on any matter, and the prime minister has no say at all. The planned revision is intended to place political superiority above bureaucracy and to break down the current rigid ministry boundaries, enabling greater flexibility and cooperation among the ministries.

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