(Yomiuri: January 29, 2016 – p. 4)
Nobuteru Ishihara, a former secretary-general of the LDP, has been appointed minister in charge of economic revitalization following the resignation of Akira Amari. Ishihara will be in charge of key policies, including Abenomics, the Prime Minister’s signature economic policy. Ishihara is well-known as an expert in fiscal, financial, and tax policy; however, he has been criticized in the past for making inappropriate remarks. Some are concerned about how he will handle interpellations at the Diet.
Ishihara boasted outstanding name recognition from the moment he entered politics in 1990. His father is Shintaro Ishihara, former governor of Tokyo and leader of the Japan Restoration Party, and his uncle is the late Yujiro Ishihara, a famous actor. During the 1998 “financial Diet session,” he attracted attention for his role in the negotiations with the opposition parties and was called “a new breed of policymaker.” During the “Kato rebellion” of 2000, he worked together with former LDP Secretary-General Koichi Kato and did not attend the Lower House plenary session which passed the no-confidence motion submitted by the opposition parties against the Mori administration.
During his fourth term as a Diet member, he was selected as Minister of State for Administrative Reform and Regulatory Reform in the Koizumi Cabinet in 2001. Saying that he would be the “punching bag of the ‘forces of resistance,'” he took on the reform of the civil service system and the consolidation and rationalization of special public corporations and government-authorized corporations. He was named Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism when PM Junichiro Koizumi reshuffled his cabinet for a second time in 2003. He grappled with the issue of privatizing the Japan Highway Public Corporation, but it was frequently said he lacked skill in coordinating interests and he was criticized for compromising with such people as lawmakers who represented road interests.
Within the LDP, Ishihara was secretary-general under President Sadakazu Tanigaki (currently secretary-general) when the LDP was not in power. Ishihara ran for party president in 2008 and 2012 but failed both times.
In 2012, he took over as chairman of the Yamasaki faction from Taku Yamasaki and became faction leader. Akira Amari was also a leading candidate to take over the chairmanship at that time. Amari left the faction, and it is said that relations between the two have been estranged ever since.
Ishihara has a solid reputation as an orator and frequently appears on television. When he was Environment Minister, though, he provoked much criticism for speaking of the construction of interim storage facilities for the contaminated soil resulting from the nuclear accident and saying, “In the end, it will come down to money.” He has frequently been described as “careless with his speech and actions” (by the LDP leadership).