Public won't accept Nishikawa reappointment
A settlement has been reached, but it will not satisfy most of the public.
It has effectively been decided that Japan Post Holdings Co. President Yoshifumi Nishikawa will stay in his post.
Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Tsutomu Sato said Monday he had decided to authorize the proposed reappointment of Nishikawa after the president informed him that Japan Post's five executives, including himself, would take self-disciplinary pay cuts.
Sato also said Prime Minister Taro Aso had approved the decision.
Questions remain unanswered
The biggest issue now facing Japan Post are questions revolving around the attempted sale of its Kampo no Yado nationwide network of resort hotels.
Why did Japan Post attempt to sell 70 resort facilities developed at the hefty cost of 240 billion yen for a mere 10.9 billion yen?
The process behind Japan Post's sloppy procedures for the attempted sale of the facilities, which went unchallenged, must be fully explained. The firm even admitted a lack of records concerning the process of selecting a buyer, which is unthinkable for a private company.
The ministry issued Japan Post with a business improvement order in April, asking it to explain these points. However, Sato endorsed Nishikawa's reappointment after only being given a brief explanation of what occurred. Japan Post was scheduled to submit its final report on the matter Wednesday.
Many questions remain unresolved. The impression cannot be easily dismissed that Sato, having judged that prolonged confusion is damaging, rushed to draw a line under the issue.
Many problems also remain in terms of Japan Post's disciplinary action against its top management.
Nishikawa promised Sato he would immediately dismiss executives he had recruited from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. where he once served as president. But Nishikawa himself will do no more than give up 30 percent of his pay over the next three months. This is too lenient.
Questions were raised over the disciplinary measures proposed by Nishikawa, even from within the Liberal Democratic Party, with LDP General Council Chairman Takashi Sasagawa saying, "Resignation is his best option if he's admitted responsibility [by taking a pay cut]."
Criticism of Nishikawa is growing within the opposition parties, who are demanding a thorough debate of the matter.
After all that has occurred, only one outcome would be satisfactory--Nishikawa should voluntarily resign.
The business improvement measures presented so far by Japan Post also are questionable in terms of their likely effectiveness.
Japan Post said that to strengthen supervision of its management it will establish the post of chairman, above the post of president. The chairman also would concurrently chair a newly set up management advisory council.
However, Japan Post plans to appoint the chairman from the ranks of its outside directors. Can this cosy system, formed of the firm's unchanged current top management lineup, be sure to strengthen oversight of the company?
Responsibility rests with PM
The final responsibility for approving Nishikawa's reappointment rests with Aso.
The prime minister dismissed former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama earlier this month for having confused matters regarding the reappointment of Nishikawa--a decision that lacked any sense of balance.
With a view to replacing Nishikawa, Aso several months ago handed Hatoyama a list of candidates to succeed the president. Hasn't the confusion been caused by Aso's about-face rather than actions of Hatoyama?
It appears inevitable that Aso will face growing criticism over his role in this affair.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2009)