The Prime Minister’s Time

An analysis of the Japanese prime minister’s daily activities

Every day, Japan’s major media outlets publish a digest of the prime minister’s activities, recording to the minute with whom he meets, where he eats, and how long he spends in cabinet meetings and Diet proceedings. It is not entirely comprehensive – there are usually some gaps in the day – but it nevertheless provides a glimpse at how the prime minister spends his day. Therefore, it is a useful measure of how a prime minister chooses to spend his most valuable asset: his time. Over time, analyzing the prime minister’s schedule should give some insight into what a prime minister’s priorities are, how he chooses to direct his limited attention. By noting who he meets with and how frequently he meets with them, the digest of daily activities should also give insight into who is in the prime minister’s network, the prime minister’s 人脈.

I had thought about commencing a project to track the prime minister’s schedule during the Abe administration, but was unable to find the time. Now, with the launch of a new administration for the first time since 2012, I have decided that it is the right time to start such a project. At this page, I will provide weekly updates on the prime minister’s activities over the previous week. At this point, the “Prime Minister’s Time” project is a work in progress, but I will try to stick with what I believe could be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the Japanese government. If I had more time of my own, I would build a similar database for previous governments to provide opportunities for comparison, but that would be a more significant undertaking.

The Week of 27 September 2020

Another week is finished for Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide. This week includes new chart showing the week-over-week change in the number of minutes the prime minister devotes to different activities and advisers. Perhaps not surprisingly given that one of the major stories this week was what appeared to be a clear decision by Suga to…

The Week of 20 September 2020

Suga Yoshihide has completed his first full week as Japan’s prime minister. His schedule this week included both his first calls with foreign leaders and his first domestic trip at prime minister (to Fukushima prefecture). It is also possible to begin identifying certain patterns to his days, perhaps even certain officials or groups of officials…

The Week of 13 September 2020

Suga Yoshihide was elected as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in an overwhelming victory on 14 September. Two days later, he was selected by the Diet as Japan’s ninety-ninth prime minister, at which point a new cabinet of twenty – two larger than the cabinet it replaced – was officially sworn into office.Not…