By now, you're no doubt aware of finance minister Shoichi Nakagawa's embarrassing press conference in Rome:
I was going to say something snarky, but the video speaks for itself. Tobias Harris, however, has a more sober perspective:
The bigger question, beyond Mr. Nakagawa's fitness for office, is Aso Taro's capacity for governing. When Mr. Aso named Mr. Nakagawa as his finance minister, I suggested that naming Mr. Nakagawa as finance minister was akin to John McCain's naming Sarah Palin as his running mate — not because Mr. Nakagawa is as abjectly clueless as Mrs. Palin, but because both choices suggested that the choosers were unserious about governing, as they handed important posts to manifestly unqualified individuals for wholly political reasons (Mr. Aso to reward an important ally in the party, Mr. McCain to shore up his support among conservatives and to try to poach disgruntled Hillary voters). Now we learn that Mr. Aso handed an important post in the midst of a "once in a century economic crisis" to not only a political ally with little background or expertise in financial and economic affairs, but to a political ally with little background or expertise in financial and economic affairs struggling with a medical problem that can affect his ability to perform his duties.
Mr. Mori, in the same TV appearance mentioned previously, said that had he not been on a trip to the US when the Aso cabinet formed, he would have protested Mr. Nakagawa's being named the finance minister.
It is too late to lament the original mistake. With the government's committing to the story that Mr. Nakagawa was simply doped up on cold medicine, it may be too late to fix the mistake without mortally wounding a government already nearing death. It is entirely conceivable that this scandal, with its international ramifications (mostly in terms of Japan's pride), could set in motion a train of events that will bring down the government and trigger an election, the final blow to the prime minister's support within his own party.
The LDP is in free fall with Taro Aso's popularity sinking to single-digit territory. Aso has promised that Japan would be the first nation to get out of the
recession depression, so who does he send to combat this once-in-a-hundred-years crisis? A man with a known drinking problem.
Given that Japan's economy has dropped off a cliff, maybe getting doped up on booze and meds isn't such a bad idea.