Noda cabinet investiture: how many labor secretaries have the[re] been in the last 2 years?

I saw pictures of the formalities on Japan Today earlier this week.

It surprised me that there is now a new Minister of Labor & Health, which I count as the third in 2 years.

There was my former Diet member, Nagatsuma Akira (Mr. Nenkin), who resigned some time in 2010 after the bureaucracy gave him hell every day that he showed up to work. The man should have received double pay for the amount of effort he put into that department. I met Mr. Nagatsuma briefly last October.

Then, there was an older gentleman, whose name escapes me–wait let me look it up, Ritsuo Hosokawa, (Japan Times link). He is apparently out.

Now, there is Yoko Komiyama as minister.

What should impress you about the Labor and Health ministry is that they go through ministers so quickly that they don’t even bother to feature them on the English version of the website. If you look at the organization chart to the right, there is no mention of WHO the minister is, just how many various departments there are.

That’s the real meat of it. The functionaries run the ministry, not the minister. The minister comes and goes. If it happens to be someone who tries to get something done, like Nagatsuma, they raise hackles and become non-cooperative. Especially with a person like Nagatsuma, because he embarrassed them during the pension scandals. It’s more about their cushy government roles than it is about serving the people of Japan.

The investiture ceremony is quite a thing. But in actual governing significance, it is about equal to watching the cars and SUVs pull away from the fast-food drive-in window. That’s about as long as these ministers survive, never mind the prime minister.

[Update: From Bloomberg – Azumi as Eighth Finance Chief Since 2008 Signals Japan’s Eroding Influence. Eight! “May I take your order?” ]