National / Politics

New ministerial post raises doubts, overlaps with other agencies

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s newly created ministerial post is raising questions from the public and the opposition camp over concerns its roles will overlap with other agencies.

Katsunobu Kato, 59, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, was appointed the newly established minister in charge of building a society in which all 100 million people can play an active role. The minister’s job is to advance the administration’s economic policies.

To realize such a society, Kato is expected to play the leading role in advancing Abe’s three new economic goals.

These include boosting gross domestic product by 20 percent to ¥600 trillion by 2020, bolstering child-rearing assistance to halt the nation’s dwindling birth rate and ensure a stable population of around 100 million people over the next five decades, and beefing up welfare services.

Those responsibilities, however, overlap with those of the economic and fiscal policy minister and the welfare minister.

It remains unclear how the administration will differentiate their respective roles.

According to Abe’s Sept. 24 speech, the government aims to boost the total fertility rate — an estimate of the average number of children that women are expected to bear over their lifetime — to 1.8 from the 1.42 recorded in 2014, by implementing measures to help households with children.

He also pledged to increase nursing facilities for the elderly to create a society where no one has to quit their jobs to look after their aging parents. Still, Abe has not explained how the government plans to finance such measures.

Masato Imai, Secretary General of the second largest opposition party, Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party), questioned the necessity of creating the new post.

“I have no idea what kind of roles the minister will play. (Abe is) trying to appeal (to the public) with a catch line (of creating a society where all 100 million citizens can play active roles),” Imai told reporters.

Kato, a former Finance Ministry official, will also serve as a minister in charge of female empowerment as well as abduction issues.

Information from Kyodo added