« 社説:09年チェンジ オバマ政権 のびやかな日米関係に 近現代史の知識を広げよう | トップページ | お酒と高齢者―静かに広がる依存症 »

2009年1月 6日 (火)



--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 5(IHT/Asahi: January 6,2009)

EDITORIAL: Recession and election


A Lower House election must be held by September, finally giving voters the chance to pass judgment on the confused and stagnant state of the nation's politics.


The choice will be whether to allow the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito to continue governing or elect a new government led by the main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan). Voters will have to think long and hard about their vision for the future of the country.


On Sunday, the day before the regular Diet session convened, Prime Minister Taro Aso and Minshuto President Ichiro Ozawa raised the curtain on the political battle they intend to wage in this crucial election year.


"It is the LDP that can implement effective economic measures swiftly," Aso said with confidence. Ozawa retorted that the "LDP-Komeito government cannot lead the nation through this crisis."


The primary mission of this Diet session, however, is to figure out ways to protect the public from the fallout of the economic and employment crises that have been rapidly gaining ground since last year.


The second supplementary budget bill for the current fiscal year that the government plans to submit to the Diet session will include a program to increase loan guarantees and the line of credit to small and medium-sized companies. The initial budget plan for the new fiscal year starting in April will finance fiscal spending to stimulate the economy as well as social security measures that would make nonregular workers eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. A delay in the implementation of these vital policy measures due to partisan animosity must be avoided at all costs.


Aso has maintained a confrontational political posture toward the opposition camp despite his promise to put a higher priority on policy responses to the economic downturn than on political warfare. This understandably makes it difficult for the opposition parties to seek political compromise. The decision by Aso and his ruling coalition to delay submission of the second supplementary budget until the regular Diet session was apparently a political maneuver to avoid being forced to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election.


In the meantime, companies are expecting to face an increasingly hard time raising funds as the current fiscal year winds down to a close at the end of March. It is the shared responsibility of both the ruling and opposition parties to make sure that effective measures will be in place in time to help companies ride out the expected cash squeeze. The opposition camp must do more than just block policy proposals by the government and the ruling coalition.


We urge both camps to fulfill their political responsibility. This means they must both make concessions and put priority on enacting the budget plans quickly. It is the public that will suffer most from any major delay in the passage of the budget bills.


First, Aso needs to drop his planned 2 trillion yen cash handout to households, which has been criticized by all the opposition parties, from the second supplementary budget. In exchange, Minshuto and the other opposition parties should accept the remainder of the spending package.


Similar mutual concessions are also needed to enact the initial fiscal 2009 budget bill swiftly. That will require Aso to promise to dissolve the Lower House for a snap poll immediately after the Diet passes the budget and related bills.


At Sunday's news conference, however, Aso clearly ruled out any possibility of such a political deal with the opposition bloc. Aso appears to be intent on bulldozing these bills through the Diet by invoking the so-called 60-day rule, which allows the Lower House to enact bills through a second vote if the Upper House does not vote on them in 60 days. But this approach will inevitably prolong the political gridlock. Aso's confrontational strategy is a disturbingly irresponsible way to deal with the current political situation.


Aso may be fearing that a promise to call an election would torpedo the last of his fragile power base within the ruling camp and cause his government to collapse. But this political paralysis has its roots in the postponement of a Lower House election to seek a public mandate by the three LDP administrations since the party's disastrous defeat in the Upper House election two years ago.


It is no longer possible for the ruling party to keep escaping the inevitable political reset.



« 社説:09年チェンジ オバマ政権 のびやかな日米関係に 近現代史の知識を広げよう | トップページ | お酒と高齢者―静かに広がる依存症 »





« 社説:09年チェンジ オバマ政権 のびやかな日米関係に 近現代史の知識を広げよう | トップページ | お酒と高齢者―静かに広がる依存症 »