A former Japanese prime minister slammed current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and his administration, in the aftermath of school-related scandals.
Yasuo Fukuda, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2008, said in an interview with Kyodo News that Japan is “nearing ruin” because of the scandals and the government’s handling of affairs.
Tokyo is not responding in an appropriate manner to incidents like the Kaku Gakuen scandal, brought to light by anonymous leakers in Abe’s government, because of the work culture in the current administration, Fukuda said.
“All mid-level officials in each ministry [of Abe’s government] are carefully watching for cues from [Yoshihide] Suga as they work,” Fukuda said. “I am ashamed. The state is nearing ruin.”
Suga is Tokyo’s chief cabinet secretary.
Few high-profile politicians in Japan have voiced strong anger over Abe’s response to allegations he used his position of power to benefit friends with gifts such as a grant of government-owned land.
Abe’s handling of the scandals has led to a rapid decline in his popularity in recent months, and Japan’s opposition has targeted the prime minister for other matters, including his delayed response to North Korea’s most recent missile test.
Fukuda was directly targeting the personnel division of the cabinet office, a department that was newly established by the Abe administration.
The administration created the division in 2014, after Abe assumed office, and deputy chief cabinet secretary Koichi Hagiuda supervises the department.
The centralization of administrative power culminated in the scandals, Fukuda said.
“Politicians should not be managing the personnel affairs of public servants,” the former prime minister said. “It is the biggest failure of Abe’s cabinet.”
Fukuda added the organizational structure of the current government encouraged civil servants to follow the prime minister’s wishes, even when no explicit orders were given.
Fukuda also said politics are a “mess, because a person with no competence has risen to a high position of power.”
“If the [ruling] Liberal Democratic Party is defeated the public office will also be destroyed. It is an act of suicide,” he said.
Fukuda, himself an LDP politician, added Abe was “lucky” because there were no significant challengers in his party or from the opposition.