Lets be honest – it you have been trying to keep tabs on the Minister of Justice, you (like me) will have experienced a profound and painful episode of whiplash. The year 2012 witnessed the rise (and inevitable fall) of six Ministers of Justice. With those numbers, you’re more likely to last longer as a prime minister; a jarring and sobering statistic.
And so it is that we welcome Sadakazu Tanigaki as the new official seat warmer; lets see how long he lasts.
During his inaugural press conference as the newly-minted Minister of Justice, there isn’t much that comes as much as a surprise. He lists the priorities of his tenure as making Japan the safest country in the world (really, as if it already isn’t!!). To accomplish this, he aims to support victims of crimes, fight against recidivism (by supporting their reintegration into society), and finally, always the crowd-pleaser, fight against organised crime.
Given the revolving door that is the Minister-ship, and reflecting on the vagueness of these completely immeasurable goals, it’s hard to muster much of feeling about him (or really, any of them). What is perhaps more interesting, though, is reading between the lines of his answers to the only two substantive questions (you lose, Asahi!).
Yomiuri asks him about his position on the death penalty; his response is predictably elusive, but he does seem to hint that he is uncomfortable with it, falling back into the safe zone of saying that he will respect the decision of the courts, and that capital punishment is reflective of social values. It’s hard to hold this against him given just how singularly minded the Japanese people are when it comes to government-sanctioned murder – something I reported on the last time I bothered to review a Minister of Justice.
NikoNiko asked him about the recording of interrogations, where again, he backs into the safe corner of not wanting to tie the hands of investigators, but assures the reporter that he will watch the situation carefully and make his decision as he goes.
Interesting to see what, if anything, he does, but I’m inclined to think that the bureaucracy will do what it wants to do, and he will just warm that seat until another cabinet reshuffle (probably within the next year).
Watch the press conference (below) and judge for yourself if you think he will have any influence over the behemoth that is the gyousei.