Japanese prime minister-elect Yukio Hatoyama said yesterday he had picked Naoto Kan, a former health minister, to head a powerful new agency that will oversee the budget process and set policy priorities.
Hatoyama, who will take office on Sept. 16, said that in addition to heading the National Strategy Bureau, Kan, 62, will also be deputy prime minister, and that Katsuya Okada, 56, had been chosen to be foreign minister.
Kan and Okada are former leaders of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and had been tipped as potential finance ministers. Hatoyama said he would formally nominate them at a party meeting tomorrow.
The DPJ comes to power with ambitious spending plans to put more money in the hands of consumers, raising concerns it could inflate a public debt already about 170 percent of GDP, the highest among advanced countries.
The new National Strategy Bureau, to include both public and private sector officials, will be tasked with reforming what the Democrats have said is a cumbersome policymaking system.
Kan’s experience in tangling with bureaucrats when he exposed a scandal over tainted blood products at the health ministry could stand him in good stead.
The new strategy bureau will seek to implement a Democrats’ promise to bring elite bureaucrats to heel and put politicians back at the center of policymaking.
Although Japanese media had reported Hirohisa Fujii, a former finance minister, was likely to be picked for that post, they quoted Hatoyama as saying yesterday he was not yet ready to name his choice for finance minister.
Fujii, 77, is the head of the DPJ’s tax panel, has called for funding Japan’s social welfare costs with consumption tax revenue and discussing over the next four years the issue of raising the sales tax.
He said Tokyo should not step into currency markets unless exchange rates move abnormally, adding that a strong yen is good for Japan.
The Nikkei Shimbun also reported that Masayuki Naoshima, the party’s policy chief, was likely to hold one of the economic posts.
The Mainichi Shimbun said Hatoyama picked Okada for his connections in the US.
Hatoyama’s choice for the top diplomatic portfolio is being closely watched after concerns emerged that his party’s policy of adopting a more independent stance from the US could damage ties with Tokyo’s biggest security ally.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread