Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

EDITORIAL: Prime Minister's Office to Be Tested in Carrying out Civil Service Reform

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

EDITORIAL: Prime Minister's Office to Be Tested in Carrying out Civil Service Reform

Article excerpt

The Prime Minister's Office will take the lead in making strategic personnel appointments of bureaucrats. We hope a recent law revision can achieve the results it was designed for.

The House of Councillors has passed a bill into law to reform the national civil servant system. The centerpiece of this law is the establishment of a cabinet personnel affairs bureau that would oversee the appointment of senior government officials in a unified manner. The bill was approved at an upper house plenary session by a majority vote with support from the Liberal Democratic Party, its ruling coalition partner New Komeito, the Democratic Party of Japan and other parties.

A basic law that indicated the fundamental principles and direction of civil service reform was enacted in 2008. Since then, related bills have been submitted to the Diet once by the LDP-Komeito administration and twice by the DPJ-led administration, but all were scrapped. Last week's passage of the latest bill should finally bring an end to some of the arguments over civil service reform.

The new bureau likely will be launched at the end of May and oversee the appointment of about 600 senior government officials at ministries and agencies, including administrative vice ministers, bureau director generals and deputy ministers. The bureau will examine the suitability of candidates for these positions based on a performance assessment compiled by each ministry, before the prime minister and chief cabinet secretary and cabinet ministers ultimately discuss whether to appoint or dismiss them.

Japan needs bureaucrats qualified to respond to the needs of the times and committed to working for the benefit of the nation, rather than the benefit of certain ministries. The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made promoting his Abenomics economic policies and elevating the role of women in society front and center in its approach to boosting the economy. Who will be placed in key posts in the government? Senior personnel changes planned for this summer will be a litmus test in this regard.

To ensure that favoritism is set aside and the right person gets the right job through a fair appointment process, evaluation criteria will need to be explicitly spelled out. …

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