« 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:オバマ氏のメッセージ /東京 | トップページ | ビザなし交流 ロシアは国際信義を守れ »

2009年1月30日 (金)

代表質問 「消費税」論戦をじっくりと

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 30, 2009)

Diet needs to give time to sales tax discussion

代表質問 「消費税」論戦をじっくりと(130日付・読売社説)

It is imperative that the Diet now deepen discussions about a suitable consumption tax rate for the nation, even though the task is thought of as a medium-term challenge.


The consumption tax issue was one of the focuses of attention Thursday during questioning from party representatives at the House of Representatives in response to a policy speech delivered Wednesday by Prime Minister Taro Aso.


Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, lashed out at Aso's pledge to raise the consumption tax rate, saying the tax raise would not win public sympathy "unless amakudari [the practice of bureaucrats landing cushy jobs in the private and public sectors] is eradicated and pork-barreling is completely terminated."


In his counterargument, Aso said, "All revenues from the consumption tax will be used for social security benefits and policies to address the declining birthrate, thereby returning it to the people." The prime minister, however, stopped short of clarifying the timing and margin of the consumption tax hike by saying the government will study these issues from now on.



Welcome all proposals

It is appropriate to consider raising the consumption tax rate to secure a stable financial source to cover snowballing social security costs.


Of course, with the economy currently deteriorating, it is difficult to work out details, such as the timing and margin of the tax raise, which will be made on the condition that the economy makes a turnaround.


Even so, it is vital for the government to dedicate time to considering the direction in which the nation is heading--toward a hike in the consumption tax rate--and steadily make efforts to win public support.


In this regard, a proposal by Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda can be seen as forward-looking. He proposed, among other things, managing revenues from the consumption tax by putting them into an account separate from the general account and that a mechanism be instituted to prevent wasteful spending.


If the DPJ is so opposed to a consumption tax hike, it should present other ways to secure financial sources. Putting options on the table can only deepen discussions on this issue.



DPJ dropping ball on piracy

Meanwhile, regarding the government's plan to dispatch Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to fight piracy off Somalia, Hatoyama asked why the task could not be undertaken by the Japan Coast Guard.


In principle, maritime policing activities fall within the JCG's jurisdiction. But the pirate-infested area is far removed from Japan, and the pirates are armed with heavy weaponry.


It is in line with accepted international practice to send MSDF with trained members and more powerful equipment now that the mission has been deemed difficult for the JCG. Other countries involved antipiracy missions are sending their navies' ships, not those of coast guards.


Hatoyama argued from the perspective of civilian control that it would be problematic for the Defense Ministry to formulate guidelines on the use of weapons for antipiracy missions, which will not be made public.

This argument is unreasonable. Disclosing guidelines would be tantamount to exposing MSDF's cards to the pirates and could hamper MSDF efforts to carry out missions.


What the DPJ needs to do is compile as soon as possible its own policy on fighting piracy.


There are arguments within the DPJ both for and against the dispatch of MSDF vessels. One of the reasons for DPJ opposition is its need to act in concert with the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party.


If the DPJ believes it is more important to put on a united front with those two opposition parties at the expense of leaving unaddressed the threat of piracy against about 2,000 Japanese-related vessels that pass through those waters each year, it can hardly be said to be a responsible action.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 30, 2009)

20091300210  読売新聞)


« 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:オバマ氏のメッセージ /東京 | トップページ | ビザなし交流 ロシアは国際信義を守れ »





« 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:オバマ氏のメッセージ /東京 | トップページ | ビザなし交流 ロシアは国際信義を守れ »