The face of futility



Tonight Yoshifumi Nishikawa, the former president of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation hand-picked by Koizumi to lead Japan Post through the privatization process, has announced he will step down rather than fight the inevitable. Shizuka Kamei, the minister in charge of revising the privatization plans, gave him the news personally yesterday that there had been a change in plans, though he was not explicitly told to resign (Kamei had said that enough in public already).

This picture of a downtrodden Nishikawa was taken before tonight’s press conference, I think right after his meeting with Kamei. He had worked for about four years preparing Japan Post to become a stock corporation and prepare for an eventual public offering. Now it’s all over. Barring another reversal, there will be no IPO and the government will now re-emphasize Japan Post’s role as publicly owned infrastructure instead of as a potential source of cash for the ailing treasury.

This marks Nishikawa’s second major fall from grace as a top executive, though this one wasn’t his fault. At SMBC he had to step down in 2005 to take responsibility for losses. Financial regulators later slapped the bank with a partial business suspension order for forcing small businesses to invest in derivatives as a condition of getting a loan, a practice that took place under his watch. Heading Japan Post was his attempt to leave a more positive legacy.

4 thoughts on “The face of futility”

  1. This news was soooo disappointing. I had just gotten home last night, wife had the TV on in the living room, Shizuka “the ranting bobblehead” Kamei was on the news and out of the corner of my eye I saw “亀井” “辞任” flash on the screen…

    REALLY got my hopes up for a minute there, then I realized that tragically it was not Kamei who was quitting.


  2. Have you heard who is replacement is? A 72yo former Okurasho/Finance Ministry bureaucrat who has puttered around in a bunch of cushy jobs since retirement. So much for ending amakudari.

  3. Well as was pointed out on a news show, it really isn’t “amakudari” since the replacement isn’t “descending from heaven”. He is “ascending (back) into heaven”. So I guess this is the Kasumigaseki version of the “Rapture”.

    Whatever you choose to call it, though, it is more of the same ol’ same ol’.

  4. Yeah, how does this fit into the whole minshuto, getting rid of waseteful spending narrative? It seems to go completely against everything they have said regarding curtailing the power of bureaucrats.

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