Agriculture Minister Nishikawa Resigns

This just in today, from NHK World:

Japan's agriculture minister Koya Nishikawa has resigned. He submitted a letter of resignation on Monday to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who accepted it.

Abe appointed former agriculture minister Yoshimasa Hayashi as Nishikawa's successor. Hayashi formally assumed the post later in the day.

Nishikawa came under fire after it was found his political organization received a contribution of 3-million yen, about 25,000 dollars, from a wood processing firm. The company was granted state subsidies.

Nishikawa's group also accepted a donation of one million yen, or about 8,400 dollars, from a company run by the head of a sugar industry organization. This body too, was granted state subsidies.

Nishikawa said in the Diet that he thought the donations were not illegal. He said he returned the money to avoid raising doubts about his responsibility as farm minister.


Serious, especially the donation from the sugar lobby, especially in light of the TPP negotiations that involve - you guessed it - Japan's sugar subsidies. Serious enough for Abe to sack the guy. Let's see, anyone remember how many Abe ministers have had to resign due to scandals by now...?

Update:

TPP accord no longer expected before April
 

JIJI  Feb 22, 2015
Ongoing negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement are no longer expected to conclude before April.
Japan and the United States had hoped the 12-member TPP talks would conclude as early as March, assuming the two countries could clinch an accord at a bilateral meeting in late February or early March.
The delay reflects slow progress in U.S. congressional procedures to grant President Barack Obama trade promotion authority, which would give him significant power to negotiate trade deals and is considered crucial for early ratification of an eventual TPP accord. The U.S. Congress has yet to take up legislation on such powers.
At a news conference Friday, TPP minister Akira Amari admitted that a final accord may come later than early spring, as previously scheduled. According sources close to the TPP talks, a ministerial meeting of the 12 countries toward a possible accord could come in mid-April at the earliest.
In light of the dimming prospect of an early conclusion, some negotiators are now worried that the solidarity to strive for an accord among the 12 nations may weaken. Indeed, the United States and emerging economies in the talks remain wide apart over issues such as intellectual property rights, while some members have tried to revive discussions over issues that have been almost agreed upon, according to the sources.
Chief TPP negotiators are set to meet in Hawaii from March 9 to 15. The United States and Japan, the two countries seen holding the key to the success of the talks, are hoping to hold a bilateral working-level meeting ahead of that. With the United States showing few signs of concessions over some tricky issues, however, it is “hard to imagine significant progress,” one source said
 

Comments

Tom Inokashira said…
In all the books I've read about Japan over the years there appear to be two (I may think of another one while writing them!) factors re political scandals.

If anyone gets caught or exposed their only regret is in being caught and/or exposed.

Plus, sometimes, to ease some 'pressure' or to be seen to make an example of someone the political parties themselves will offer up a sacrificial lamb (ie maybe someone who has not paid back a favour or seen to be a liablitiy anyway). A quiet phone call to a contact at a national newspaper usually does the trick.

Anyway, enough about the UK...

The latest here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11429144/Cash-for-access-scandal-the-reaction.-Live.html
Martin, Wasn't Nishikawa against Jp joining the TPP, therefore a block to the negotiations. The new neoliberal appointee seems to have been grooming himself to push the TPP through.

Scandals are often used to elminate political opponents, not only in Japan, but also the US & Europe. Many in the US believe both Pres Nixon & PM Tanaka were brought down by scandals leaked to the press because of their respective detente with Communist China.

What is your take on the new appointee & the TPP?
Martin J Frid said…
Tom, indeed the case. And cash-for-access" sounds just like the AKB48 deals...

TTT, it is a very troublesome development, but still no end in sight for the TPP negotiations, and without Fast Track legislation in the US, very unlikely that anything will be finalised soon. The new guy is a fourth generation conservative politician, with "work" experience at Mitsui... And have you noticed Abe loks very unhealthy again recently?

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