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2009年1月20日 (火)

小沢民主党 信頼できる政策を明示せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 19, 2009)

DPJ must show policies have substance

小沢民主党 信頼できる政策を明示せよ(119日付・読売社説)

If the Democratic Party of Japan is serious about trying to assume the reins of government, it will need to present policies that convince the public of its credentials and widen the party's support base.


On Sunday, the main opposition party held a regular party convention at which DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa expressed his resolve to bring about a change in government. "We'll take the interests of the people to heart and create a new government that will protect people's lives and livelihoods," Ozawa said.


According to several recent opinion surveys, the DPJ has been basking in approval ratings almost on par with those for the Liberal Democratic Party. However, it is still too early to say the DPJ's high approval rating equates to a positive evaluation of the party's political stance and policies by voters.


Rather, the rise in support might be more the result of people becoming disaffected with the LDP and its policies, including its wavering over the controversial fixed-sum cash benefit, and mounting displeasure at a string of verbal gaffes by Prime Minister Taro Aso.


According to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted this month, only 20 percent of respondents said they thought the DPJ had presented proposals that would be effective in stimulating the country's flagging economy. An overwhelming 67 percent answered they did not think the DPJ had offered viable proposals.



Trustworthiness is key

If the DPJ aspires to defeat the government in the next House of Representatives election, it needs to prove it has the ability to hold the reins of government, not by playing to the gallery, but by presenting policies of its own that people can trust.


At Sunday's party convention, Ozawa proposed two "New Deals" as fresh economic stimulus measures--namely "environmental measures" such as promoting the wider use of solar panels, and "safety and security measures" such as strengthening the earthquake resistance of primary and middle schools as well as hospitals.


The party should immediately start concrete discussions on these proposals and spell them out in a manifesto and other mediums.


In October, the DPJ estimated that implementing its pledges, including child benefits, should it come to power would cost 56.9 trillion yen over four years. Although the party presented a brief breakdown of the estimate, it failed to clarify where the financial resources to fund these promises would come from. We hope the party will deepen discussions on the matter and make its pledges more credible.



Diplomatic concerns

The DPJ's fiscal 2009 campaign policy, which was approved at the convention, stressed the party would "win the trust and friendship of the international community by employing self-determined and active diplomacy that centers on peace and the environment." However, this leaves some nagging doubts. How does the DPJ plan to handle the Japan-U.S. security alliance, a cornerstone of this nation's diplomacy?


The DPJ is demanding the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean be terminated. It also insists that the Japan-U.S. agreement over the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, be reviewed and that the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement be revised. The party also has opposed a special agreement on Japan's host-nation support for the costs of U.S. military forces stationed in Japan.


These matters directly concern the foundation of the Japan-U.S. security alliance. Any slip-ups or careless handling of these issues could strain relations between Tokyo and Washington.


What, precisely, does the DPJ mean by "self-determined and active diplomacy"? The party will need to discuss in detail the finer points of this question.


The DPJ will never be considered a responsible party if its main priority remains preventing internal disarray on key policies while continuing to skirt debating these tough questions.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 19, 2009)

20091190137  読売新聞)


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