« 殺人:45歳中大教授刺され死亡 理工学部のトイレで | トップページ | 最高裁人事―密室から解き放つとき »

2009年1月15日 (木)



--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 14(IHT/Asahi: January 15,2009)

EDITORIAL: Feud over cash handouts


Opinion polls conducted by major news organizations over the weekend showed quite astounding results. The approval ratings for Taro Aso's Cabinet dipped below 20 percent in polls by The Asahi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun and Kyodo News, while the disapproval ratings topped 70 percent in polls conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK), Sankei and Kyodo.



In short, more than two-thirds of voters have turned their backs on the prime minister, including 67 percent of the respondents in the Asahi survey.


Even worse for Aso is the overwhelming unpopularity of his economic measures.


In the Asahi poll, 70 percent of the respondents said they did not expect much from the prime minister's economic stimulus package. Similarly, the Yomiuri poll showed 64 percent of the respondents giving a thumbs down to the government's economic measures.


On the much-debated fixed-sum cash handout program, 71 percent considered it "ineffectual as a stimulus measure," and 63 percent said the handouts should not be given, according to the Asahi survey. In the Yomiuri survey, 78 percent favored "spending the money to improve employment and social security, rather than to give it away."


The government's popularity is bound to suffer when recession continues to seriously affect employment and consumer spending.


However, the government now finds itself extremely unpopular for wanting to use a whopping 2 trillion yen to give cash handouts to all Japanese citizens. This means people are not just balking at this particular initiative, but they are saying they have lost faith in the government.


Against this background, the ruling coalition railroaded the government's second supplementary budget and related bills through the Lower House on Tuesday.


Naturally, this elicited a strong reaction from opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan). The party's leader, Ichiro Ozawa, said he would "deal positively with other issues" if the prime minister drops the 2-trillion-yen spending plan from the budget bill, indicating that he would cooperate for the swift passage of the supplementary budget bill.


Had Aso accepted Ozawa's "offer," he could have made it easier to take swift measures to increase employment and help small and medium-sized businesses with cash flow problems.


But in Aso's mind, meeting Ozawa even halfway must have been tantamount to conceding defeat. The prime minister appears incapable of understanding just how gloomy the situation has become for society.


Aso also faces critics within his own Liberal Democratic Party. Yoshimi Watanabe, a former state minister in charge of administrative reform, resigned from the party on Tuesday.

And former LDP Secretary-General Koichi Kato noted, "Between 70 and 80 percent of LDP members know in their hearts that the handout program isn't quite right, but they support it because they need New Komeito on their side in the next general election."


If what Kato said is true, it means the LDP is going along with this "not quite right" program solely because it needs the support of its junior coalition partner and Soka Gakkai. This is pathetic.


If the ruling coalition continues to feud with the opposition camp, which will likely reject the legislation in the Upper House, the ruling bloc, which controls the Lower House, would resort to the "60-day rule" to get the program approved by a second vote as it has done in the past.


This will lead to a repeat of the confusion in the Diet during the Yasuo Fukuda administration over the gasoline tax bill and the bill to resume the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.


With life becoming increasingly bleak for its citizens, Japan just does not have the luxury to continue with such inane politics.



« 殺人:45歳中大教授刺され死亡 理工学部のトイレで | トップページ | 最高裁人事―密室から解き放つとき »





« 殺人:45歳中大教授刺され死亡 理工学部のトイレで | トップページ | 最高裁人事―密室から解き放つとき »