• Hikari, Yamaguchi


During their first Diet debate (May 27), Prime Minister Taro Aso responded to a line criticism from Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama by saying something to the effect that: “Implementing policy is the most important thing. Nothing will be accomplished if all you do is bash bureaucrats. Unless one thinks of ways to motivate bureaucrats, they will not do anything.”

What an astonishingly frank acknowledgment that true political power in Japan lies not with the people, as ostensibly prescribed by the Constitution, nor with their elected representatives, as is the norm in representative democracies, but with unelected bureaucrats hiding behind the curtain of Parliament, sheltered from accountability.

I’m in slack-jawed disbelief that this sorry state of affairs — in which politicians apparently need to be afraid of what public officials think of them rather than the other way around — is allowed to continue without any real public debate or much attention from members of the fourth estate as to how this effectively hobbles the entire democratic process.

andrew murphy

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