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2009年5月16日 (土)

社説:鳩山VS岡田 勝敗は政見で決せよ

(Mainichi Japan) May 15, 2009
DPJ leadership candidates should compete on policies
社説:鳩山VS岡田 勝敗は政見で決せよ

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leadership election on Saturday will be a duel between Secretary-General Yukio Hatoyama and deputy leader Katsuya Okada. Most legislators close to outgoing leader Ichiro Ozawa are supporting Hatoyama while younger politicians who distance themselves from Ozawa played a key role in fielding Okada. It is virtually a race between pro- and anti-Ozawa politicians within the largest opposition party.

The leadership election will select the party's candidate for prime minister as the next general election for the powerful House of Representatives is to be held before September.
If party members elect their next leader only by whether the candidates are pro- or anti-Ozawa, the race would not be worthy of being called a prelude to the general election that will choose the next government. Even though the campaign period is short, both candidates are obligated to compete on policies to show whether they are capable of taking over the reins of government. The party's ability -- in terms of both its policies and its management -- is being tested in the leadership race.

At their respective news conferences on Thursday, both Hatoyama and Okada declared that they will endeavor to maintain and strengthen the unity of the party following the race.

Hatoyama, backed by members of his own intraparty group and Ozawa's group, is expected to garner more votes than Okada. He pledged to take over Ozawa's policies saying, "The path that leader Ozawa has taken wasn't wrong." He also said if elected party leader, he would ask Ozawa to play an important role in the campaign for the general election.

Hatoyama dismissed concern expressed by some party members that he will lead the party under directions from Ozawa. "Nobody should call me a 'puppet leader.'"

In a recent Mainichi poll, the number of those who said Okada is more suitable to lead the DPJ is almost twice that for Hatoyama, and Okada is aiming to show that he can appeal more to voters during the Lower House race.

Okada has revealed a new slogan, "A political party open to the people." He emphasized he would ensure that all party members will maintain their unity to battle in the general election if he becomes party leader, but stopped short of saying whether he would appoint Ozawa to any important post in the party.

It is regrettable that there was only limited time for open policy debates as DPJ members of both houses of the Diet are scheduled to cast their ballots only five days after Ozawa announced his intention to resign. The public would be disappointed if the DPJ elects its next leader in an inward-looking manner while even the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds an open campaign for its presidential elections by holding public debates. DPJ legislators are urged to explain their selection of candidates to party members. The DPJ Okayama prefectural chapter's plan to interview rank-and-file party members and registered supporters on the phone over which candidate should lead the party is one of such efforts.

It is also problematic that there hardly appear to be any differences in basic policies between the two candidates as they have agreed to ban corporate political donations from 2012 -- the key issue in problems involving politics and money. Hatoyama said no discussion should be held on a consumption tax hike for now. Okada has pointed to the possibility that the consumption tax will be used exclusively to finance public pension programs while saying it is difficult for the foreseeable future to raise the indirect tax levied virtually on all goods and services. They should hold in-depth debates on the issue.

The Mainichi poll suggests that 66 percent of the public believes that Ozawa's resignation came too late and that 83 percent believe that Ozawa has not fulfilled his accountability for a political donation scandal involving one of his aides. The DPJ cannot overcome its setback as a result of the scandal and go on the offensive if it misreads the public's critical opinion.

毎日新聞 2009年5月15日 東京朝刊


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