Tokyo, Sept. 13 (Jiji Press)–Three contenders in the Sept. 29 leadership election for Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party have all proposed a reorganization of central government ministries and agencies, with discussions related to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry seen taking center stage.
The three who have announced that they will run in the LDP presidential election are expected to engage in a heated debate on whether to split up the health ministry and to establish a new organization to take command of Japan’s COVID-19 measures, with the novel coronavirus crisis highlighting the ministry’s institutional fatigue.
As the proposals suggested by the new party leader picked in the LDP election will be a pillar of the party’s campaign pledges for the next election for the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, the ministry reorganization is expected to be one of the key campaign issues in the LDP leadership race.
The coronavirus crisis revealed health ministry delays and mismanagement over the spread of polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests, the introduction of a smartphone app that notifies users of possible contact with COVID-19 patients, the approval of coronavirus vaccines and securing hospital beds for coronavirus patients.
The issues were due to the ministry’s vast responsibilities and the negative effects of the Japanese government’s vertically segmented administrative structure.