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2008年8月 4日 (月)


(Aug. 3, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Can PM get upper hand before Diet dissolution?

改造内閣始動 解散政局で主導権をとれるか(83日付・読売社説)

The just-overhauled Cabinet of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will face a moment of truth very soon, at the next extraordinary Diet session.


With the tenure of House of Representatives lawmakers expiring in little more than a year, Fukuda faces an uphill battle to produce tangible results at the Diet session that will give the ruling parties an edge before the Diet is dissolved for a general election.



According to a public opinion poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun immediately after Friday's cabinet reshuffle, the Fukuda Cabinet's approval rating recovered to 41.3 percent.


It can be said that the reshuffle of the Cabinet and the Liberal Democratic Party's executive posts was a success, at least for the time being.


At its first meeting on Saturday, the new Cabinet issued a statement spelling out the policies it will steadfastly implement, including the integration of government administration over consumer affairs and diverting revenues from road-related taxes to be used for the "livelihood of ordinary people."



There are myriad problems that cannot be dealt with by Japan alone, including the subprime loan fiasco and skyrocketing prices of crude oil and raw materials. Therefore, the new Fukuda Cabinet's ability to present countermeasures both adequate and feasible to people in Japan and abroad will be closely watched.




Refueling mission key duty


Meanwhile, multinational forces are still engaged in fierce battles against terrorists in Afghanistan.


At a press conference following the reshuffle, Fukuda stressed that the refueling mission being conducted by the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Indian Ocean is "directly linked to Japan's national interests." "We have to be fully aware that other countries concerned are paying a huge price [in their efforts to fight terrorism]," he said.


LDP Secretary General Taro Aso expressed similar views.


Japan was forced to temporarily withdraw from the "war on terrorism" because turbulent debate on a bill for the new Antiterrorism Law at the last extraordinary Diet session prevented the government from extending the refueling mission.


The continuation of the ocean-based refueling mission, which is not as dangerous as support operations on Afghan soil, is the least Japan can do to fulfill its international obligations. The nation should not let down the international community by withdrawing from the mission again.


Both the prime minister and the LDP secretary general must show their resolve to pass a bill to extend the refueling mission--even by resorting to a second vote in the lower house to enact the bill with a majority of two-thirds or more. They should also try to persuade New Komeito to overcome its reluctance to take a second vote in the lower house.




Fukuda must explain views


After seeing the new Cabinet and LDP executive lineup, which includes Aso in the party's No. 2 position, the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, now strongly believes Fukuda will be the one to dissolve the lower house.


At the upcoming Diet session, the DPJ is certain to grill the government over problems related to pension record blunders and the unpopular medical insurance program for people aged 75 and older in a bid to prompt an early dissolution of the lower house for a general election.



Fukuda should proactively engage in debates with opposition parties over such basic national issues as fiscal reconstruction and the nation's contribution to maintaining international peace. In the course of doing so, the prime minister must explain his own views in an easy-to-understand manner.



(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 3, 2008)

2008830159  読売新聞)


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