26 September 2023

JAPAN: PM accused of playing favourites

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Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe has been accused of ignoring the mandatory retirement age for Public Servants in order to allow Hiromu Kurokawa (pictured), the 63-year-old head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office, to continue in his post.

The media is speculating that by extending Mr Kurokawa’s term until the middle of the year, Mr Abe will be able to appoint him as the next Prosecutor General.

Mr Kurokawa is believed to have played a role in implementing a key goal of Mr Abe — the easing of visa regulations that has helped fuel an international tourism boom.

He was also involved behind the scenes with the effort to establish tougher, but politically controversial, revisions to anti-organised crime laws, which were passed in the Diet (Parliament) in 2017.

His ability to work with different Agencies and his support for key policy items on Mr Abe’s agenda have earned him the respect of the Prime Minister’s Office and Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga.

A law dating back to 1947 mandates that public prosecutors must retire at 63 (Mr Kurokawa was 63 of 7 February), while the retirement age for the Prosecutor General, the top post, is 65.

Japan’s Prosecutor General, the equivalent of an attorney general in other countries, is Nobuo Inada, who will turn 64 in August when, after serving two years in the position, he will retire.

If Mr Kurokawa is currently still in his position then, he will be eligible to replace Mr Inada. That is creating concerns among Mr Abe’s critics that he will have in place a political ally, compromising the independence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Observers said Mr Abe is likely to get his way as the issue will be buried by more pressing problems, especially the Government’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Tokyo, 3 March 2020

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