‘I hate Korea’ Taro Kono’s humiliation… From prime minister candidate to ‘pay return’ headache 

Deep wrinkles between the eyebrows and tight lips that seemed not to be swayed by any words. Taro Kono, Japan’s digital minister, is imprinted with such an impression on Koreans. He was the person who took the forefront of negotiations with South Korea as the foreign minister when the Japanese government excluded Korea from its “white list” (export screening preferred countries) in 2019. Despite Korean persuasion several times, he always remained silent with a determined expression on his face. Added to this are the absurd remarks about the past and the rudeness at diplomatic events, and it has become a byword for ‘dislike’ in Korea.

He has been on a promising path in Japanese politics since the White List incident. He was appointed as the Minister of Defense in the Abe Cabinet, and in the Corona 19 crisis, he was in charge of vaccine work to raise awareness and was mentioned as the next prime minister. However, his bright future is rapidly fluctuating after his defeat in the prime ministerial election. In particular, recently, due to the controversy over the electronic resident card ‘My Number Card’, he suffered the humiliation of returning his salary, and is being discussed as a target for a cabinet reorganization. Various analyzes are coming out in Japan as to why he, who was aiming for the presidency, was cornered.

The impetuous and cold personality is the root cause

It was at a press conference on the 15th that Kono Digital Sang announced that it would return the minister’s salary in connection with the My Number card controversy. He said that as the minister in charge of this situation, he felt he had to make a decision because it was too late for the initial response. After taking office as a digital award in October of last year, he announced that he would abolish the existing health insurance card and replace it with a My Number card by the fall of 2024, saying he would speed up digitalization. However, after that, various errors occurred in card registration, which became a problem.

The reason Kono Digital Sang announced that he would return his salary on this day was because the My Number card had become an issue directly related to the continuation of the Fumio Kishida cabinet. The approval rating for the Kishida cabinet recorded 26.6% in an opinion poll conducted by Jiji News Agency on the 4th to 7th, dropping to a dangerous level for maintaining the government. Respondents who said there were problems with the스포츠토토 response to Kono Digital exceeded the majority at 52.5%.

As the My Number card problem continued to worsen, criticism of Kono Digital’s way of working continued in Japan. It is said that the nature of not trusting the words of bureaucrats and focusing only on quick work has aggravated the problem. An official from the Digital Office told the media, “When the minister set the abolition of health insurance cards in the fall of 2024, there were concerns within the agency that it was too fast.” .

Within the Liberal Democratic Party, some pointed out the cold nature of Kono Digital Award in responding to the National Assembly and the media. It is said that there is a high risk of inciting angry public opinion due to rude attitude. When the My Number card controversy erupted in June, he responded to the media asking about the direction of his response, saying, “Some people work overtime until 3 or 4 in the morning.” In June 2020, when he was the Minister of Defense, it caused controversy by giving the answer “ask the balloon” to a media inquiry asking about the identity of the white sphere found over Japan.

Kono Digital’s rude attitude has also caused problems in relations with Korea in the past. In relation to the issue of compensation for forced labor in 2019, when he was Foreign Minister, he took action against the Korean ambassador to Japan in the middle of the night and cut off his explanation in the middle, showing a diplomatically rude attitude. After hearing Moon Hee-sang, chairman of the National Assembly at the time, make an apology from the emperor, he made a remark, saying, “A person even the president of the (Korea-Japan Parliamentary Federation) talks like this.”

Interested in whether he will be reappointed in the cabinet reshuffle next month

The Kono Digital Prize is also the son of former Deputy Prime Minister Yohei Kono, who was the protagonist of the ‘Kono Statement’ in which he apologized for colonial rule during the Japanese occupation. He was initially known as a friendly faction, but after being selected as foreign minister, he showed anti-Korean and right-wing tendencies by setting up a confrontational angle with the Moon Jae-in government. Some analyzed that he, with his ambitions as the next prime minister, might have jumped on the bandwagon of anti-Korean sentiment in Japan to reveal his presence.

After taking over the Administrative Reform Award in 2020, he led reform issues and succeeded in building national awareness by taking charge of vaccine distribution and inoculation in the Corona 19 crisis. He maintained first place in public opinion polls ahead of the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election for the September 2021 prime minister election, but he failed to achieve his dream by allowing incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to chase in the final vote. After that, in the cabinet reshuffle following the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he took over as the digital prize and aimed for the middle of the country, but it became a headache for the party as it failed to resolve the My Number card controversy.

The Japanese press believes that Prime Minister Kishida is preparing for a cabinet reshuffle in the middle of next month, and the key to that will be whether or not Kono Digital will remain in office. Kono Digital Award is still one of the leading candidates for prime minister within the Liberal Democratic Party, so whether or not he will remain in office is a matter of interest in the political world. If he steps down as it is, his political life may be greatly shaken, so he himself is not letting go of his will to continue his term. ‘Returning the salary’ is the background of not choosing to resign despite the humiliation.

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