• Chikushino, Fukuoka

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Regarding the Sept. 4 editorial, “Test awaits Mr. Noda’s Cabinet“:

The only test for the new prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, is how quickly he will lose his new position.

For the better part of a decade, Japan has gone through, on average, one prime minister a year. Instead of looking at each individual demise and poring over the minutiae of every downfall, it would be more worthwhile to look at the endemic reasons why the apparently shambolic power structure seems to be crumbling before our very eyes.

At nearly all levels of management, a visible leader is always evident, but the actual powermongers rarely emerge into public sight. With this situation, prime ministers always bear the brunt of public anger, although recently they have deserved their summary dismissals less and less.

There is now a whack-a-mole ethos where the show heads in every case are hammered out of sight, while those pushing up the next new head are never seen. Often stuck with jobs nobody else will do, these leaders garner little respect or support. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, those with permanent influence continue to exercise it through the show heads until the latter either embarrass or oppose them irreversibly, at which point pressure is put on the latter to vacate their “temporary” positions.

In this context we can see why both good and bad “leaders” suffer similar fates. The recently departed Naoto Kan, for example, had far higher integrity than many of his predecessors, especially among the opposing Liberal Democratic Party leaders, who ceded power in 2009. But when he threatened a nonnuclear power future for Japan, alarm bells started ringing.

The real powermongers in government never actually suffered from the superficial power shift, because Japan’s bureaucracy is so fiercely entrenched. The fact is that Japanese prime ministers are still coming and going at the same alarming speed under both parties — like sushi on a revolving counter!

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

david wood

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