Ishiba remains the scourge of the bureaucrats

With the fight over the nomination of Muto Toshiro taking center stage, opposition calls for Defense Minister Ishiba Shigeru to resign due to the Atago incident appear to have receded, leaving Mr. Ishiba to proceed with his efforts to clean up the Defense Ministry.

The latest piece of that effort is his project team to “promote integrated procurement reform.” This group’s purpose is radical change in the defense procurement process with the aim of eliminating the pernicious influence of the defense trading companies, which results in untold waste and inefficiency in Japanese defense spending. Last year’s scandal implicating Moriya Takemasa provided a mere glimpse at the problem.

Asahi reports that the team’s final report, due at the end of the month, will make several changes to defense procurement effective at the start of Fiscal Year 2009, including the creation of a supervisory group that will monitor the activities of trading companies in relation to arms imports and the expansion of direct links to defense contractors in the US (for example).

Any Japanese politician who claims to be serious about national security should be wholly supportive of Mr. Ishiba’s efforts at the very least, and should be clamoring for more assiduous oversight from the Diet and ideally an intra-ministerial inspector general. The combination of a changing security environment and tightening budgets mean that the Japanese people and their elected representatives should not tolerate the gross misuse of public funds that is the result of the trading company-dependent procurement process. They should demand transparency, efficiency, and accountable, considering national defense is at stake.

Is that really too much to ask?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s