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2008年9月16日 (火)


(Sep. 9, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun
DPJ must show itself ready to govern
小沢代表3選 政権公約に説得力を持たせよ(9月9日付・読売社説)

The task to be fulfilled by the Democratic Party of Japan, led by Ichiro Ozawa, is to craft a convincing campaign manifesto for the anticipated House of Representatives election.

To achieve the goal, the leading opposition party should not avoid holding full-scale intraparty debates on key policy issues. Its seemingly self-imposed ban on such debates during its presidential election should not be repeated.

Ozawa was reelected uncontested for his third term as party leader Monday. It is a pity that no policy debates were conducted among multiple candidates.

We believe that not only the DPJ's more than 260,000 members and active supporters, but the voting public in general wanted to hear the political views and basic policies of party leadership candidates, among whom the winner would be the DPJ's candidate for prime minister.

For its part, the DPJ could have heightened the quality of its yet-to-be-completed manifesto through debates during the party's presidential election, while also seizing the opportunity to attract further public attention.

Within the party, some members are expressing serious concern that the public's attention is being so strongly focused on the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election that the DPJ may find its presence overshadowed by the ruling party.


What price party unity?

The DPJ is paying the price for not conducting a competitive party presidential election for fear that rifts created by the election might remain within the party ahead of the lower house election.

Ozawa unveiled a set of fundamental policies that would steer a DPJ government, including a system to guarantee minimum pension payments funded by tax revenues, child benefits, and an income compensation system for each farm household. The policies do not differ from the DPJ's manifesto for last summer's House of Councillors election.

Ozawa said, "It would be unreasonable if it was different [from its previous election promises]." However, more than a few party members say it is necessary to create a carefully thought-out manifesto to ensure the proposed policies can be enacted when the DPJ takes the reins of government.

Many observers regard the DPJ's overwhelming victory in the upper house election mainly as the result of blunders by the LDP, including the pension records fiasco--not the product of active public support for the DPJ's campaign promises.

For the DPJ's election promises to be credible, it is indispensable for the party to explain where it will find the required financial resources.


Promises must be paid for

Ozawa's proposed abolition of provisional tax rates on gasoline would cost the government 2.6 trillion yen in revenue in addition to the 15.3 trillion yen needed to fund the DPJ's promises from the upper house election.

Ozawa has said, "Among bureaucrat-apportioned budget allocations, plenty have strayed from their original intent or are unnecessary items, including special account budgets and fiscal resources for road construction and maintenance." However, the public will not be satisfied with his mere abstract explanation. Ozawa should provide a specific breakdown of how he intends to reallocate financial resources.

As for the diplomatic field, Ozawa's platform stresses constructing a solid and equal Japan-U.S. relationship. However, how can he balance this with the party's policy of not dispatching Self-Defense Forces personnel to the Indian Ocean or Iraq?

While Ozawa labeled the SDF's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean a violation of the Constitution, many DPJ lawmakers do not agree with his argument.

That discrepancy within the DPJ aside, it is quite possible that party dynamics may work to avoid intraparty discussions from now on, with an eye to an early dissolution of the lower house.

If the DPJ can overcome these issues, it can show its ability to take the reins of government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 9, 2008)
(2008年9月9日01時57分  読売新聞)


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