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2009年5月29日 (金)

社説:党首討論 毎週開いたらどうか

(Mainichi Japan) May 28, 2009
LDP, DPJ leaders should have weekly debates
社説:党首討論 毎週開いたらどうか

Wednesday's debate between Prime Minister Taro Aso, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party, and Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Yukio Hatoyama apparently disappointed a large number of voters. Hatoyama had drawn more attention from the public than Aso as it was the first time since he assumed the post that he had held a debate with the prime minister. However, it was regrettable that the debate did not sufficiently focus on specific issues.

After touching upon North Korea's recent nuclear test at the beginning of the debate, Hatoyama spent much time explaining his slogan, "fraternalism." Hatoyama said, "I want to create a society in which people can feel others' happiness as their own happiness," only to be rebuffed by Aso as being too vague. "The important thing is not ideals or abstract argument, but realistic discussions," Aso countered.

The opposition leader then cited an example of a community school in which volunteers in the neighborhood play an important role in classes at the local elementary school, but it was not specific enough.

Hatoyama apparently attempted to talk about a wide diversity of topics but failed to hold in-depth discussions on each issue. Hatoyama has criticized the Aso administration as being a bureaucrat-dominated administration. If so, he should have focused on the details of the 14 trillion yen fiscal 2009 supplementary budget -- such as a 11.7 billion yen project to build an art facility that displays works including anime and manga, which he sarcastically called an "Anime Hall of Fame" -- as well as the details of retired bureaucrats' practices of landing lucrative jobs in businesses they once supervised.

Prime Minister Aso repeatedly brought up the indictment of a state-paid secretary to Hatoyama's predecessor, Ichiro Ozawa, over a political donation scandal, apparently believing that it was the DPJ's sore point.

Aso did not say whether he will support the DPJ's decision to submit to the Diet a bill that would ban corporate political donations within three years, and said, "The problem is that the current law hasn't been observed. The proposal on a ban on corporate donations is an attempt to sidestep the issue." The prime minister also pointed out that Ozawa has failed to fulfill his accountability for the scandal.

Hatoyama countered by criticizing law enforcers for failing to investigate an LDP legislator allegedly involved in a similar scandal.
He was fully aware that Aso would bring up the scandal involving Ozawa's aide, but Hatoyama's remarks demonstrated that the party has failed to coordinate views among its members over how to respond to the case.

As the next House of Representatives election draws near, debates between the two major party leaders provide voters with opportunities to judge whether the LDP should remain in government or the DPJ should take over the reins of government, and who is more suited to serve as prime minister -- Aso or Hatoyama. Moreover, their discussions will clarify important policy issues during the election campaign. As Aso said in the debate, the two leaders should have bold discussions on defense and social security issues. It is hoped that Hatoyama will express his clear opinions on these issues in the next debate.

The two leaders are urged to hold a policy debate every week until the prime minister dissolves the House of Representatives for a snap general election. If the debate is not long enough to have in-depth discussion, it should be extended.

毎日新聞 2009年5月28日 東京朝刊


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