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2009年1月10日 (土)

代表質問 対決だけでなく協調も必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 7, 2009)

At Diet, heads together, not loggerheads, please

代表質問 対決だけでなく協調も必要だ(17日付・読売社説)

Japan's politics will be thrown into disarray again if the ruling and opposition parties continue to face off under the "divided Diet," in which the ruling parties hold a majority in the House of Representatives and the opposition bloc controls the House of Councillors. In the face of the unprecedented global financial crisis, such a situation should be avoided at all costs.


Interpellations in the Diet by party representatives over the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2008 started Tuesday. Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, criticized a government plan for a flat-sum cash handout totaling \2 trillion as "the last word in massively stupid plans" and demanded that it be removed from the extra budget.


Prime Minister Taro Aso countered Hatoyama head-on, saying, "The plan is intended to provide emergency assistance to each household in the current economic downturn, and it also will benefit the economy by boosting consumption."


It cannot be denied that the handout will have a limited effect in stimulating the economy. But Hatoyama, who described the plan as "the most wasteful use of taxpayers' money," should spell out, in the form of a constructive counterproposal, a more effective way to pump-prime the economy.


Three opposition parties, including the DPJ, on Tuesday submitted to the lower house a bill to amend the government-proposed second extra budget. But the bill merely seeks to scrap the cash benefit plan. It does not contain alternative economic measures.



Tactical move by opposition

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this move by the opposition parties is a strategy to gain political advantage and undermine the ruling parties by urging ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers who are critical of the cash benefit payments, including Yoshimi Watanabe, a former state minister in charge of administrative reform, to rise up in rebellion by voting against important government-proposed bills or for opposition-proposed ones.


If the government and ruling parties insist on taking a hard-line approach to passing budget-related bills that the opposition parties reject by resorting to a second vote in the lower house, where the LDP-New Komeito coalition has a two-thirds majority, the passage of the bills into law would be greatly delayed.


That would deal a blow to the economy and people's livelihoods. It would be a rerun of the ordinary Diet session last year, in which ruling and opposition parties were at loggerheads over the issue of whether the provisional gasoline tax rates should be maintained.


Taking into account the current global financial crisis, the ruling and opposition parties should put their heads together and come up with ways to deal with the Diet impasse.


Hatoyama asserted that the tough employment situation is "a human disaster politically generated by the Aso Cabinet." He urged Aso to back an emergency resolution jointly submitted by the opposition bloc for employment measures.


The opposition-proposed resolution merely seeks the "securement of public employment and residence" and the "flexible management of the welfare benefits system."



No time for grandstanding

What is needed from the Diet now is not political performances that play to the gallery, but the immediate passage of a new law for effective employment policies. There are many pressing problems to tackle, such as the creation of new jobs, support for reemployment for those who have lost their jobs and measures to discourage the withdrawal of job offers.


The government-proposed bill to revise the Temporary Staffing Services Law includes a clause to basically prohibit dispatching registered workers on a daily-wage basis. But the opposition parties are considering submitting another bill to amend the law to prohibit dispatching temp staff to the manufacturing industry itself.


Careful consideration needs to be given to maintaining the international competitiveness of Japanese companies as well as temp workers' employment and working conditions. The ruling and opposition parties should rack their brains and try to hammer out a better approach to Diet business.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 7, 2009)

2009170150  読売新聞)


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