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In a bold and surprising move, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama Wednesday appointed Mr. Yukio Edano, a 45-year-old Democratic Party of Japan Lower House member, as administrative reform minister. Mr. Edano, well-versed in policy matters, is highly qualified as a government waste-cutter. His joining the Cabinet will not only lighten the burden of Mr. Yoshito Sengoku, who has doubled as administrative reform minister and national strategy minister, but also help strengthen the Cabinet’s overall ability to implement policy measures.

In a post he held last year, Mr. Edano oversaw the scrutinizing of fiscal 2010 budget requests, an activity carried out under the Government Revitalization Unit. As a Cabinet minister, he will now effectively head this unit. Beyond utilizing Mr. Edano’s abilities, Mr. Hatoyama must also be hoping that the appointment will help dispel the popular perception that his administration is under the control of DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa.

Mr. Edano is known for taking a critical stance against Mr. Ozawa. He said Feb. 8 that Mr. Ozawa should resign as DPJ secretary general if he fails to give people a proper explanation of the details surrounding the indictment of three of his aides on charges of falsifying political funds reports.

Mr. Hatoyama had earlier planned to appoint Mr. Edano as his own special adviser, but this plan never materialized. Mr. Ozawa’s opposition was suspected. As to the decision to make Mr. Edano administrative reform minister, Mr. Hatoyama has said that Mr. Ozawa told him, “I have no objection at all.” Mr. Hatoyama can take this as a positive sign for his relationship with Mr. Ozawa, the effective head of the DPJ.

Mr. Edano said he will start a new round of waste-cutting measures in April. Independent administrative agencies and government-affiliated public-service corporations will be the main targets. These bodies often intervene in the distribution of budget money, which inevitably causes waste. Mr. Edano has only two months left. He should make careful preparations so that funding allocations can be properly scrutinized, and real progress made towards overcoming bureaucrats’ vested interests.

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