Back in Tokyo for a half-week stay to attend to a few things before going back for my last few weeks in Taipei. This time, it’s the clear weather that’s following me around, which is nice. Not even I, with my English genes and sense of dramatic melancholy, like rain and overcast skies that don’t stop for weeks at a time.
Japan appears not to have undergone any major changes, though I have to say I loved this item from the other way (which I was too busy to post about at the time):
Cutting bureaucratic fat may be a lot tougher than anticipated.
A government advisory panel’s proposal to reduce branch offices of central ministries and agencies is expected to meet with fierce opposition.
While terms such as branch office and regional bureau may conjure up images of “outposts” of central government ministries, those venues are considered by entrenched bureaucrats as comprising the “core” of their ministries.
Past developments do not bode for fast progress. Last year, the decentralization committee asked for suggestions on possible mergers of branch offices.
Not a single central ministry came up with a positive proposal.
“Tougher than anticipated”? Asking central ministries whether they have any bright ideas about how to shrink their own territory and limit their own authority? The degree of ingenuousness on display here is touching. Every battle over restructuring federal ministries–from the game of musical chairs finalized in 2001 to the Koizumi administration’s “trinity reforms“–has amply demonstrated that bureaucrats do not willingly look for ways to give themselves less power. And they know how to work the system to get their way, largely because they pretty much are the system.
It’s confirmed that Toshiro Muto is the candidate whose name has been submitted to committee as the next head of the Bank of Japan. (Toshihiko Fukui’s chances for a second term were scotched by his involvement in the Murakami Fund/Livedoor maelstrom.)
I’m starting to get the new Janet album, which makes me happy. It’s been a while since a celeb put out an album that actually grew on me instead of provoking an immediate and unshifting love it/hate it/enh reaction. The single seems to have gone nowhere except in dance clubs, of course.
Happy belated birthday to Rondi, who was born on 5 March.
Happy on-time birthday to Lynn Swann, Taylor Dayne, and Tammy Faye (wherever she is), who were born on 7 March like me. This is apparently the day Apple was granted the patent for the iPod two years ago, too, which is very cool.
Eric has a good post about maneuvering in the Pennsylvania primaries. I agree that those who think goosing Clinton’s campaign in order to help McCain along later are playing with fire:
Unless that is, I do something about it, and fast. The way I see it, Hillary is going to win this state, and the forces of Rush Limbaugh are going to do their damnedest to increase her margin of victory. This, it is believed, will help John McCain. Not only do I disagree with this approach, but I distrust it. Almost without exception, Limbaugh and the other major Hillary promoters hate John McCain and make no secret of it. So I am deeply suspicious of their claim that they are “helping” John McCain by helping Hillary at the polls.
I think this might very well have the opposite effect. Yesterday’s election results demonstrated the fragility of Obama’s house of cards, because the Obamamania is already starting to wear off. I predicted that in the long term, he would be the weaker of the two candidates for this very reason, and that he, not Hillary, would be the easier of the two for McCain to beat.
Divisiveness in the Democratic Party seems to be building just fine without trying to foment it…with the side effect of reinforcing HRC’s renewed viability. I don’t think I’m misunderstanding the argument, but I really don’t think it’s a good idea.
Remember when Janet used to sing songs like “He Doesn’t Know I’m Alive“? As often happens, the release of the new album has reminded me how much I love her old stuff, so I’ve been on a real Janet kick, and I was just thinking, you know, if she did a song with a similar storyline today, she’d be all like “He doesn’t even know that I’m alive…so I hired a private detective to find out his address, put on my studded lilac pleather catsuit, got into my SUV, plowed it through the facade of his McMansion, stepped grandly out into his now open-air foyer, and introduced myself as Miss Janet Robo-Damita.” I mean, rhyming and stuff, of course.
I guess that’s not as interesting as it seemed a few minutes ago. Uh, have a good weekend, everyone.