Hiroshima Peace Science Volume 24
2002 発行

Political outcomes of the slips of the tongue of Japanese ministers

Matsuo, Masatsugu
Slips of the tongue' of Japanese cabinet ministers have attracted the attention of scholars. But, focusing mainly on the backgrounds of these slips, the scholars have not paid sufficient attention to the outcomes. The present paper is an attempt at empirical identification of the political outcomes of such slips of the tongue. We distinguishs two levels of outcomes: the personal level and the government or party level. At the personal level, acknowledgment of individual responsibility is the most important of the outcomes. The ministers in question have to bear responsibility for their verbal missteps in one of three ways: resignation, apology or explanation. If they have to resign from the ministerial posts, they will never be appointed again to the post of a minister. Nevertheless, most of them will be successful in holding their seats in the Diet even after the slips of the tongue. At the government or party level, there are three major outcomes, two or all of which frequently occur simultaneously. First, slips of the tongue may cause a split in the diplomatic relations of Japan with other countries. Secondly, they may threaten the stability of a coalition government. Thirdly, they may be used as a means of attack against the government or government party by the opposition parties. It seems that the main objective of such an attack against the government or ruling party is to achieve support expansion and vote acquisition for the opposition(s). But, the examination of the results of national elections does not give us any definitive conclusion about whether these objectives are attained or not.