With the resignation of Endo Takehiko as minister of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries one week into Prime Minister Abe’s “re-challenge” cabinet, we’re once again given a look at the reality of LDP governance, at least as far as agricultural policy is concerned. To be an LDP agricultural “expert” means to have inappropriate ties with the groups regulated by MAFF.
The new minister will be Wakabayashi Masatoshi, the environment minister, but I can’t help but wonder if the government would be better off finding a younger member with no agricultural experience whatsoever — someone who has never waded through a rice paddy or seen a cow. Four ministers in the span of the year means that the bureaucracy is calling the shots on agricultural policy anyway, so the government might as well appoint someone whose purpose will be nothing more than signing off on what the bureaucrats do.
The government may yet pay a heavy price for the latest scandal, not least in popularity. But will the censure motion reportedly under consideration by the DPJ make any difference? As Yamaoka Kenji, DPJ kokutai chairman, said, “It is not a problem of one minister. It is the structure of collusion between politicians, bureaucrats, and businesses.” Mr. Yamaoka speaks of using investigative powers that come with the control of the Upper House to expose the whole mess, which is fine — but the opposition shouldn’t waste its time with a symbolic censure motion.