In his opinion piece “Preventing another Moritomo scandal” on April 14, Ichiro Asahina said politicians should focus on “more important issues,” such as North Korea and work-style reform. But how can a government paralyzed by successive scandals effectively tackle such issues?

The scandals are not the wrongdoings of individual officials. Rather, they involve whole ministries, from top bureaucrats to petty officials, at least one of whom committed suicide.

Such behavior by bureaucrats serving their bosses’ personal interests is described with the Japanese word “sontaku.” And Asahina tells us sontaku is not a bad thing! He even says sontaku is good for work efficiency. I seriously doubt he has any sound work experience whatsoever.

Sontaku is the worst enemy of rational decision-making. The Imperial Japanese Army, which almost destroyed this county, was plagued by sontaku, clouding the eyes and brains of military leaders who pushed suicidal operations resulting in millions of deaths.

The only way to prevent another Moritomo scandal is to eliminate sontaku culture that emphasizes the boss’s interests over their occupational ethics, and dethrone the prime minister.

Even so, it will take a long time to right the governing system and stamp out the corruption.


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.

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