Aso: Ministers only glance at papers before approving

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Finance Minister Taro Aso suggested Thursday that ministers do not read all administrative documents submitted to Cabinet meetings for approval.

“When it comes to whether ministers read all the documents, I’d say I think the reality is that they glance at the papers,” he said at a meeting of the Committee on Financial Affairs of the House of Councillors.

The remarks may stir controversy as they could be taken to indicate that Cabinet ministers give the green light to documents on important policies and bills without knowing their contents.

Aso said at a parliamentary meeting on Wednesday that he sometimes gives stamps of approval to documents that he does not read.

At Thursday’s committee meeting, Aso said, “As a practical matter, Cabinet meetings would never end if ministers read the whole of a huge volume of papers,” while stressing that he “takes responsibility” for documents he approves.

He also said that Vice Minister of Finance Junichi Fukuda was reprimanded over his alleged sexual harassment against female journalists, as reported by the Shukan Shincho weekly magazine.

Aso hinted that no punishment tougher than a warning is needed for the top Ministry of Finance bureaucrat although the opposition side urged Fukuda to quit.

Kohei Otsuka, head of the Democratic Party, said at a press conference on Thursday that Fukuda should consider stepping down.

At a separate press conference, Kenta Izumi, parliamentary affairs chief of the Party of Hope, said: “If the reported sexual harassment is confirmed true, that would be outrageous. In that case, Aso should immediately dismiss Fukuda.”Speech

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