Key members of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s Cabinet lashed out Aug. 19 against proposals being discussed by a blue-ribbon panel headed by Hashimoto to reorganize the ministries under their charge.

They made the remarks as members of the Administrative Reform Council entered their second day of intensive discussions on reforms.

At a regular news conference, Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka reiterated that fiscal and monetary policy should be handled by the same minister, rebutting a proposal that the two major functions of his ministry be separated as part of administrative reforms.

In other industrialized nations, one minister is responsible for fiscal, financial system and currency-related matters, Mitsuzuka said, indicating Japan should follow those examples. He also spoke of his attendance at meetings of finance ministers of the Group of Seven nations. Each member state is represented by one minister, he said, adding that those discussions were important in the attempt to stabilize economic growth on a global scale.

Hashimoto is currently working on the details of his plan to roughly halve the number of ministries and agencies.

Mitsuzuka was echoed by Kabun Muto, chief of the Management and Coordination Agency, who told a separate news conference that the Finance Ministry should be allowed to retain its monetary functions.

Media reports have suggested the reform council seeks to create an “Economic Ministry” that combines the Finance Ministry’s monetary functions and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. But MITI chief Shinji Sato, speaking on a separate occasion, said his ministry is “not holding discussions over assuming (monetary policy functions).”

Sato also expressed opposition to the idea of creating a new ministry that handles both food and energy issues. The Natural Resources and Energy Agency is currently under MITI’s wing.

Meanwhile, Hisao Horinouchi, chief of the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, insisted his ministry’s postal businesses cannot be separated from the administration’s information and telecommunications sector. Proposals are being floated to privatize the ministry’s postal, postal savings and insurance businesses or to have them run by an independent semigovernmental body.

Coronavirus banner