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2008年11月26日 (水)

国会延長問題 首相は態勢を立て直す時だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 26, 2008)

Aso must show public where he stands

国会延長問題 首相は態勢を立て直す時だ(1126日付・読売社説)

Although the current extraordinary Diet session is to be extended, a second supplementary budget for fiscal 2008 will not be submitted during the session. This situation is difficult to fathom.


Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday expressed his intention to submit the extra budget to an ordinary Diet session to be convened in early January.


The submission to the Diet of the extra budget to implement additional stimulus measures announced by the prime minister at a press conference in late October has, therefore, been put on hold.


Many people must be scratching their heads over Aso's actions. The prime minister has shown he is acutely aware of the severity of the current economic situation, describing it as a once-in-a-century storm and deeming it imperative to quickly implement additional measures to boost the economy.


But even if the extra budget were submitted during the extended Diet session, the budget would not likely be passed if the Democratic Party of Japan tenaciously resisted it.


The largest opposition party indicated it would not prolong deliberations on the budget. However, the government and ruling parties apparently do not trust the opposition because they have been betrayed by it a number of times since the administration of former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.



Extension the right move

The DPJ is refusing to vote in the House of Councillors on a bill to revise the new Antiterrorism Law to allow Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel to continue the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean and a bill to revise the law for strengthening financial functions to allow public funds to be used to shore up financial institutions.


The bills are indispensable for national security and for addressing the financial crisis. We think it is natural for the ruling parties to extend the current Diet session to have those bills passed and enacted through a second vote in the House of Representatives.


However, the ruling parties have found themselves in this situation regarding Diet affairs partly due to a string of blunders made by the prime minister himself.


Regarding the plan to provide fixed-sum cash benefits to help stimulate the economy, the prime minister initially said the benefits would be given to every household. However, he then recognized it would be necessary to impose an income cap on recipients. Without formulating a clear-cut answer on the issue, he threw local governments a curveball by leaving the decision on whether to impose an income cap up to the municipalities.


This disarray has led to the likelihood the extra budget will not be passed even during the extended current Diet session.



Focus on job at hand

More recently, Aso put his foot in his mouth when he said many doctors lack "social common sense." He apologized for this gaffe soon after.


Aso also has caused confusion with his statements on such issues as tax grants to local governments in connection with the plan to use road-related tax revenues for general purposes, and the planned sale of stocks in companies under Japan Post Holdings Co. His remarks drew criticism and objections even from within the ruling parties.


The prime minister said he wants to focus his energy on compiling the fiscal 2009 budget and revising tax systems throughout December. Addressing these tasks gives him a chance to rebuild his standing. He needs to maintain a responsible attitude and ensure his policies are implemented.


It is disturbing to see the prime minister and DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa trade insults outside the Diet. Their much awaited head-to-head debates in the Diet are to be held soon. The leaders of the two main parties should cross swords there.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 26, 2008)

200811260152  読売新聞)


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