Michael Porter was the moderator and I was the challenger for a 30 minute session with our Minister of Financial Services and Economy, Heizo Takenaka. I was allowed to ask one question to Takenaka-san. I told him about the conclusion of the two sessions from yesterday. The conclusion of the first session was that there was a basic lack of democracy and diversity causing many of the problems and creating a resistance to change. There was not multiple points of authority, only one. The LDP. There was an inability to criticize power without fear of retribution. Plans are easy, but execution is difficult. Execution is left to the bureaucracy which gets in the way and prevents execution. Media and the bureacracy were the problem according to the first session. The second session yesterday blamed the lack of political will. When Takenaka-san proposed a very aggressve plan to take care of non-performing loans last year, the press slammed him and mostly reported the position of the bank heads. The bureaucrats were not supportive and the LDP tried to crush it. The interesting thing was the a poll on the Monex site showed that 87% of individuals were supportive of Takenaka-san's plan but that was not reported by the press. (reported it on this blog) I asked Takenaka-san whether he thought it was an issue of political will or whether he felt that the bureaucracy, media and the LDP actively got in his way and whether this was a significant barrier to execution.
He said that Diet was in session and that this was a very sensitive time. He made a good point that the silent majority was supportive and that it was important to empower them. Having said that, he dodged my question, but the fact that he dodged the question was partially not to screw up the Diet process which is quite complicated and important. I think part of it was fear of retribution. I think his inability to respond was a response in itself.