• Jiji


Finance Minister Taro Aso marked 3,000 days in office Saturday, at a time when he is struggling to rebuild Japan’s finances.

Aso, who broke the postwar tenure record at the key Cabinet post in 2018, is the country’s third-longest-serving finance minister of all time.

He will replace Korekiyo Takahashi, who held the post in the early 20th century, as the second-longest-serving finance minister if he remains in the job until October this year.

After becoming finance minister on Dec. 26, 2012, when former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s second administration started, Aso spearheaded a consumption tax hike twice.

But the government’s debts have risen by about 20% over the eight years. The fiscal condition, worst among advanced nations, has deteriorated further due to huge spending to fight the novel coronavirus crisis.

Despite the lack of progress in fiscal reconstruction, Aso has been praised for his stability. “Things always go smoothly as he always knows every detail” on policies, said a senior Finance Ministry official.

For his part, Aso downplayed his accomplishment.

“I didn’t mean to serve for this long,” he told a news conference Friday. “I have no intention of matching or rewriting the records of my predecessors.”

Still, Aso has also faced the task of restoring public trust in the ministry, which slumped due to the tampering of official records related to the dubious discount sale of state land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, once linked to Abe’s wife, Akie.

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