Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

EDITORIAL: Civil Servant System Reform Must Not Pander to the Public

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

EDITORIAL: Civil Servant System Reform Must Not Pander to the Public

Article excerpt

Careful discussions are necessary on a review of the civil servant system--one of the foundations of the nation--so problems will not be created in the future.

The government will draw up, as early as this month, an overarching picture of the national civil servant system reform. It plans to submit related bills to the Diet after next month's House of Councillors election. The ruling parties apparently want to emphasize their positive stance toward the reform ahead of the election campaign, but it cannot be denied that their move is somewhat abrupt.

The government faces several major challenges such as reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, lifting the economy out of deflation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations. We do not think high priority should be given to civil servant system reform.

The Democratic Party of Japan administration's misguided "lawmaker-led politics" has been overturned, and bureaucrats have reportedly regained a zeal for their work. The government should first explain the point and benefits of the reform, such as what problems bedevil the existing system and why the reform is necessary.

Back to the future

A bill on this reform was submitted to the Diet by the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Taro Aso in 2009 but was scrapped. Tomomi Inada, state minister in charge of civil service reform, said the government will examine the bill and resubmit it to the Diet.

The main pillar of the bill was the establishment of a new cabinet personnel affairs bureau that will integrate the personnel affairs of senior officials of the Cabinet Office and ministries. The new bureau will be under the Cabinet Secretariat.

The Cabinet Secretariat would have been able to control senior officials from the Cabinet Office and ministries, and the prime minister or chief cabinet secretary could take the political initiative in appointing or dismissing them.

The bill was aimed at rectifying a harmful effect of bureaucratic sectionalism that seemingly placed importance on ministries' interests above the national interests.

However, there are about 600 senior official positions, including vice ministers and bureau chiefs. …

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