New DPJ cabinet is almost totally awesome

First, the bad news. Shizuka Kamei has been appointed minister of postal issues and financial services. The man is a fierce, fierce fighter who likes to dredge up personal scandals using his ties as a former police official. That’s probably how he got the job. Now he’s going to make sure Japan Post remains the world’s biggest and possibly worst-managed bank and he’s going to crush regional banks by allowing all the people they lended money to stop paying for three years. Great.

As I just commented over at Observing Japan’s assessment of the new lineup, I hope Kamei simply collapses under his own weight. He may well overreach in a position that gives him barely any authority at all. If any place should be safe from unwise political meddling, it’s the FSA which has SEC-like regulatory and law enforcement authority over all financial services institutions.

Otherwise, not a bad lineup. Though Time Magazine posits Ozawa as a “shadow shogun” (reflecting the “Ozawa is the real one in charge” theme trotted out by both Nikkei and Yomiuri, who are wary of a DPJ administration) the cabinet reflects a wide sampling from the party including people not so close to Ozawa, like finance minister Hirohisa Fujii who was an early voice calling for Ozawa to step down over the Nishimatsu political funds scandal.

Asahi had an interesting section listing some of the human side of each new minister. I reproduce some of it here:

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has a giant frog collection. I have heard it from an eyewitness that it’s really huge. Not sure if any of them are mutant.

The above-mentioned Kamei Shizuka is a sixth-degree black belt in aikido and has held exhibitions of his oil paintings.

Naoto Kan, head of the National Strategy Bureau, was DPJ president in 2004 when he was going after LDP politicians for failing to pay into the national pension system (a duty for all residents in Japan, including yours truly). When it was found that Kan himself failed to make his payments, he was forced to resign in shame. To get over the shock of the whole series of events, he decided to shave his head and make the traditional pilgrimage to 88 Buddhist temples in Shikoku.

Justice minister Keiko “Sonny” Chiba (not really her nickname) is a former Socialist Party member who’s against the death penalty, for dual citizenship, and pro letting women choose whether to take their husband’s names when they get married. The trifecta of policies I’ve been waiting for! There is no news that the DPJ plans to abolish the death penalty, but for the time being this election appears to have saved the life of Shoko Asahara, Tokyo subway sarin attack mastermind and Japan’s most famous blind cult leader/death row inmate (and my neighbor at nearby Tokyo Detention Center).

Social Democratic Party leader and consumer affairs, birthrate, and gender equality minister Mizuho Fukushima is not only a lawyer and former TV commentator, she is a huge Miyazaki fan and serves as a judge to select the Nikkan Sports film prizes, the top honors of which in 2007 went to “Even So, I Still Didn’t Do It” about a man wrongly accused of train groping.

Hirotaka Akamatsu, agricultural minister, was once a flight attendant in the 70s. One flight was hijacked by the PLO and he had to help negotiate with the terrorists in English.

Administrative reform minister Yoshito Sengoku had his stomach removed in 2002 due to cancer.

These two didn’t make it into the cabinet (this time), but I think it’s safe to say DPJ upper house member Ren Ho (who Ikeda Nobuo thinks would make a good press secretary) and “cosplay erotica writer” turned newly elected DPJ lower house member Mieko Tanaka are the two best-looking women in the Diet right now:

Ren Ho Tanaka 850745001

Handle with care, indeed.

15 thoughts on “New DPJ cabinet is almost totally awesome”

  1. OK, I hate to do this, but
    1) She has hepatitis
    2) If you see her on TV, she looks kind of sick. Not an attractive feature.

  2. Fair enough. I thought she looked fine on TV but maybe that’s just me.

    Should probably clarify now that she got into politics after becoming involved in the movement for compensation for people who got hepatitis from tainted medical products (many people see the word and think STD).

  3. Oh I forgot to mention, Fukushima doesn’t have her ears pierced, so she wears these fake clip-on pearl earrings all the time

  4. I found out about the hepatitis later…. In any case, she is probably the best / smartest speaker of the Ozawa Girls (or whatever they are called) so hepatitis and clips ons or not, she seems likely to leave an impression.

  5. Well, Japan has some strange ideas about the attractiveness of politicians, it seems.

    I mean Vladimir Putin?? WTF!!

    Ah, Time! The cabinet is pretty much exactly NOT the one Ozawa would have chosen, and yet, he is, of course, going to manipulate it somehow. And of course, no one has EVER described Ozawa as a shadow shogun before, now, have they.

    If he is a “shadow shogun”, he is not exactly “new”.

  6. Oh I forgot to mention, Fukushima doesn’t have her ears pierced, so she wears these fake clip-on pearl earrings all the time

    I wondered about that when I saw her on TV — I figured that either those were clip-ons or she had pierced part of her neck.

  7. Too much “Fuku” in that Manzai. I really shouldn’t have been thrown, however, as I will probably be interviewing Fukushima next year. I’ll be sure to ask her about the clip ons.

    Anyway, Adamu and I switch being the “boke” every six posts.

    Okay, okay Fukuda may look a bit sick, but I’m just not feeling Ren Ho’s Wada Akiko look.

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