The government panels set up to implement Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s key policies are causing confusion as the roles of each group are unclear.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno announced the creation of four panels: on the “digital garden city-state” initiative; on accelerating digital, regulatory and administrative reforms; to a social security system for all generations; and about raising the wages of nurses, workers caring for the elderly, and kindergarten teachers.
The first Social Security panel meeting was called shortly afterwards, with Kishida urging members to “give honest opinions.”
Last month, Kishida launched the Council for the Realization of a New Form of Capitalism, aiming to detail the proposals for a “new form of capitalism” and a “positive cycle of growth and distribution” from his campaigns in the leadership race of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. in September and the October 31 general election.
The council is chaired by Kishida himself and consists of cabinet members and academic and other experts.
The garden digital city panel aims to revitalize regional economies through digital technologies, while the other new digital panel aims to promote digital, regulatory and administrative reforms together.
The Social Security panel will examine the system in general. Among its members, it has as a subgroup the pay increase team of nurses, carers and kindergarten teachers.
All panels, with the exception of the payroll team, are given equal powers and the dividing lines between their roles are unclear.
For example, policies regarding the positive cycle of growth and distribution fall under the authority not only of the new panel on capitalism, but also of the existing Council of Economic and Fiscal Policy.
In addition to the two new panels on digitization, the government also has the Digital Society Promotion Council, founded under former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Their responsibilities seem to overlap.
The responsibilities of the new panel on digital, regulatory and administrative reforms completely overlap with those of two existing bodies: the Council for the Promotion of Regulatory Reform and the Council for the Promotion of Administrative Reform.
Matsuno insisted that the new and existing panels will work closely together to move the discussions forward. But many officials have expressed confusion.
“We don’t know how to distinguish the panels,” said a source at the Cabinet Office.
“I don’t know what the government wants to do,” noted a middle-class member of the LDP faction previously led by the recently deceased Wataru Takeshita. “I don’t see Kishida’s qualities at all.”
The rush to put up the panels is seen as part of Kishida’s drive to deliver results ahead of next summer’s House of Council election.
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