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Experts’ views on Amari’s resignation

  • 2016-01-29 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: January 29, 2016 – p. 3)

 

 Nippon University Prof. Tomoaki Iwai: Amari still needs to explain himself

 

 Economy and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari has admitted that he received cash from a construction company. This is a very serious matter even if the money was handled in accordance with the law. It goes without saying that he lacks prudence as a cabinet minister. He had no choice but to resign from his ministerial post to take responsibility for failing to supervise a secretary of his who personally spent 3 million yen that the secretary had received from the company.

 

 Opposition parties were eager to force Amari to step down by grilling him at the Diet. If the Diet is stalled, the passage of a budget bill will be delayed, which would have an impact on the House of Councillors election in the summer. Amari probably assumed that if he resigned before being forced to do so, the damage would be minimized. I think that the fact that the signing ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact will soon be held affected his decision to step down.

 

 Although Amari apparently gave priority to drawing the curtain on the matter, the whole truth has not been disclosed because there are discrepancies between his account and the weekly magazine’s reports. There are many unclear points, such as why the construction company informed the weekly magazine and why the company recorded even conversations with the Amari side. Amari has apparently decided that he doesn’t need to resign from the Diet since he has not clearly violated the law, but he should continue to provide explanations to the public.

 

 Hosei University Prof. Takao Komine: No change in government’s policy, direction

 

 Economic Revitalization Minister Akira Amari’s resignation will deal a major blow to the Abenomics economic policy. In particular, if Amari could have taken the floor in Diet deliberations on the TPP free trade accord, the deliberations would have proceeded smoothly in the Diet because he led the TPP talks. In order to prevent the deliberations from becoming stalled, his duties must be carefully passed down to his successor.

 

 Amari served as a control tower for the Abe administration’s economic policies such as the economic and fiscal reconstruction plan and the goal of increasing the country’s nominal GDP to 600 trillion yen. He had not only been in charge of economic policy ever since the inauguration of the Abe administration, but also coordinating views with various circles. There is a possibility that with Amari’s resignation, the Abe administration’s management of economic policy will not go smoothly.

 

 However, the basic economic policy was decided by the entire government. There will be no major change in the government policy even after Amari’s resignation. The administration will probably move forward while striking a balance between economic growth and fiscal reconstruction. Since Amari was not the only negotiator for the TPP talks, the Diet should carefully deliberate on the TPP agreement by keeping it separate from the political funds scandal.

 

 Lawyer Yasuyuki Takai: Investigate conversations between secretary, company and UR

 

 The anti-graft law bans politicians and public secretaries from lobbying public servants “by exerting their influence based on authority.” Unless a politician has direct jurisdiction or indirect influence over a public agency to which the politician lobbies, the requirement will not be met.

 

 Since Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari Minister Amari does not have direct jurisdiction over the Urban Renaissance Agency (UR) in question, it is unlikely that he will be held accountable for violating the anti-graft law.

 

 If Amari as a Diet member said to the UR side that he would “question it at the Diet if nothing is done,” his action would infringe on the law. However, Amari, a cabinet minister, is not in a position to ask questions at the Diet. Amari and his secretary will not be held accountable for violating the law based only on the reason that Amari is an influential cabinet minister.

 

 However, the relationship between Amari’s secretary and the construction company has not been clarified. It is necessary to disclose in future investigations what kinds of interactions were held by the secretary, UR, and the company.

 

 Although he received a total of 1 million yen in cash, he will not be penalized because he recorded this in his political funds report even though there is a discrepancy in the year he received the cash.

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