No surprises here

Akagi Norihiko, the late Matsuoka Toshikatsu’s successor as minister of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, has resigned after two scandal-tainted months in the cabinet.

His resignation in and of itself is not newsworthy. It is inconceivable that he would remain in the cabinet given that he has spent his entire tenure fending off corruption charges and in general not answering questions, whether about financial improprieties or the bandages on his face.

What is interesting, however, is the response within the LDP to his departure. An article in Asahi on Akagi’s resignation suggests that more than half the party’s members think it “natural” that he resign. Apparently they think his scandals are a major reason explaining why the LDP lost big in the Upper House elections.

Now, there is no question that Akagi’s follies were part of the story of the election, but would the LDP have somehow done better had he resigned earlier? I strongly doubt it. His improprieties were symptoms of widespread malfeasance in the LDP, but one need not look far for other, more egregious examples (this was my initial reaction to Akagi’s appointment, in fact). Moreover, I suspect that as far as corruption is concerned, public distrust of politicians and bureaucrats is deep and goes back years, even decades; more recent examples serve merely to keep the fire of public disgust burning strongly.

I suspect that whoever the government finds to replace Akagi, he will likely have the same fiscal improprieties tucked away in his closet, especially if he is an “agricultural expert.”

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