dutifully parroting her boss, PM Shinzo Abe.
Thanks to the recent cabinet reshuffle by PM Shinzo Abe, Ms. Yuko Obuchi (link in Japanese) became the Minister of one of the most powerful ministries in Japan, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), at an extremely young age (for the Japanese politics) of 40. She is the daughter of the former LDP Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi who died in 2000. Right after his death, Ms. Obuchi "inherited" her father's constituency and was elected to the Lower House at the age of 26.
So far, she has already pledged to restart nuclear power plants in Japan by "making safety our priority." She visited Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on September 7, and gave us her expert assessment of the situation.
From Reuters Japan (9/7/2014):
Minister of Economy Obuchi says contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuke Plant "is under control"
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yuko Obuchi visited Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant for the first time since her appointment. She spoke with the reporters after the visit, and answered the question of whether the problem of contaminated water was under control. She said, "Overall, I think the situation is controlled."
Minister Obuchi said "individual incidents continue to happen, but looking at the result of the monitoring, the effect of radioactive materials inside the plant harbor is completely blocked."
One year ago at the International Olympics Committee in Buenos Aires, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a speech for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and said the contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was "under control." Ms. Obuchi, who became the Minister of Economy on September 3, thus follows the official view on one of the top priorities for the Abe administration.
The effect of radioactive materials is blocked, not radioactive materials themselves. Whatever that means.
The approval rating of the Abe administration jumped as much as 10 points after the cabinet reshuttle. Ostensible reasons include a number of female ministers, including Ms. Obuchi, as if it is a good thing.
Taro Yamamoto, who won the seat in the Upper House on his appeal to anti-nuclear, anti-contamination voters, has an astute observation (link in Japanese) about the Abe administration doing something to boost popularlity and the possibility of Abe dissolving the Lower House and calling a snap election in fall. Yamamoto thinks that may be the only way that the Abe administration can gloss over the failure of "Abenomics" and survive. He says LDP and Komei may be the only parties with enough organization and money to prepare for an election with very short notice.
I think he may be right. I for one just cannot imagine Ms. Obuchi controlling (or pretending to control) the bureaucrats in the most powerful ministry, or overseeing (and pretending to control) TEPCO in the decommissioning of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. I think she (and other female ministers) are for show, to boost the popularity of the Abe administration in preparation for a snap election soon.