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Career ambitions trigger infighting in METI

  • September 1, 2017
  • , p. 45
  • JMH Translation

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has been plagued by infighting caused by the battle for promotions within the ministry. Ikuro Sugawara, a former Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, was appointed as Special Advisor to the Cabinet on Aug. 15. Sugawara is expected to be in charge of a “revolution in human resources development.” But a senior official of another government agency says, “Hiroaki Niihara, who is originally from METI, has already been playing a major role in the initiative. I’m sure there will be friction between Sugawara and Niihara and that will cause turmoil.”


A staff member of the Prime Minister’s Office says Sugawara “is waiting to succeed Prime Minister’s special advisor Hiroto Izumi, who made mistakes in handling the Kake school scandal.” A former METI official says, “(Sugawara) was not a top performer among his peers when he was young. But that may have prompted him to decide to aim for career advancement by seeking Izumi’s post.”


One political news reporter says that Tadao Yanase, who was appointed as Vice Minister for International Affairs at METI, which is considered to be an honorary post, “still hasn’t given up hope that he will be promoted to Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry next summer. He is scrupulous enough to go around promoting himself. Also, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency Commissioner Hisayoshi Ando and Commerce and Information Policy Bureau Director-General Tatsuya Terazawa, who have high career aspirations, seem to be hoping that their “superiors will leave soon.”


The latest cabinet reshuffle turned out to be particularly disadvantageous to Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau Director-General Toshihide Kasutani. A staff member of the Prime Minister’s Office says with compassion, “Mr. Kasutani works under Minister Hiroshige Seko. On the other hand, he is also a senior member of the Headquarters for Japan’s Economic Revitalization, where his boss is Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. Both Seko and Motegi are only concerned about promoting themselves, so I’m sure Mr. Kasutani will be caught between them.”

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