The LDP and DPJ discuss personnel

Among the tasks facing the Diet in the first half of the regular session is the selection of a new heads for the Bank of Japan, the Board of Audit, the National Personnel Authority, and the Fair Trade Commission. Selecting personnel for these posts is done by a “dual key” system: both houses — in other words, both the LDP and the DPJ — must agree on the candidates for these positions.

A vacancy at the helm of the Bank of Japan now, in the midst of a growing global crisis, would be particularly unwelcome.

I have to imagine that this has something to do with the DPJ’s willingness to work with the LDP on the “regularization of regulations for election” to these posts. To that end, Oshima Tadamori and Yamaoka Kenji, Diet strategy chairmen for the LDP and the DPJ respectively, met Thursday at the Diet. The DPJ’s proposal calls for private hearings with candidates in the Rules and Administration committees of both houses. The LDP is giving this proposal due consideration.

For its part, the government has announced that its candidate is Mutoh Toshiro, BOJ vice president. This is indicative of the approach favored by Machimura Nobutaka, chief cabinet secretary, which calls for the government’s choosing a candidate, who would then face questioning by the Diet. The DPJ would prefer to question multiple candidates and have the final decision truly be the result of bipartisan cooperation. If DPJ opposition to Mr. Mutoh is as firm as some suggest, the government may be forced to find a new candidate.

Nevertheless, with more than a month before Mr. Fukui’s term expires, I am confident that the LDP and DPJ will agree both on a process for choosing new personnel and find candidates acceptable to both parties. This is one sign that fears of gridlock are overblown. Both parties have incentives to work with together on issues like this, when not cooperating carries greater risks than rewards. As far as personnel choices are concerned, there is no single best choice. There is certainly more room for compromise than in other areas.

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