« 自殺者3万人―安全網を張り直さねば | トップページ | 社説:党首討論 毎週開いたらどうか »

2009年5月29日 (金)


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 28(IHT/Asahi: May 29,2009)
EDITORIAL: Aso-Hatoyama debate

Prime Minister Taro Aso and new Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) President Yukio Hatoyama took part in their first one-on-one debate.

It was the first time for the two candidates for "next prime minister" to go head-to-head in trying to demonstrate their competence as party leaders for the next Lower House election that must be held by September.

When Minshuto was headed by Ichiro Ozawa, one-on-one debates were rarely held. We welcome the fact that a debate was promptly organized with the Minshuto leadership change.

At the start, Hatoyama put great emphasis on advocating his political philosophy of "building a society of friendship and love."

"As opposed to the government of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, which leaves everything up to bureaucrats, we base our starting point on citizens," Hatoyama said. "Instead of centralization, we will give local governments more power. We want to create a horizontally structured society that attaches importance to citizens, instead of the hierarchical one centering on industries."

The term yuai (friendship and love) that Hatoyama frequently cites had a nonsensical and outdated image. But he explained the idea in simple language and stressed that building a society rooted in ties among the people is needed now more than ever when widening income gaps and poverty have become increasingly serious problems.

The prime minister countered by saying, "What is important to the current administration is not philosophies or abstract theories but actual problems, such as the ongoing economic crisis and the threatening situation on the Korean Peninsula."

While Hatoyama stressed philosophies, Aso emphasized the ability to run an administration.

The two also clashed over the "Ozawa problem."

Hatoyama sought the prime minister's support for Minshuto's legislative proposal "to completely ban donations from companies and other organizations in three years, which is based on reflection" of the arrest of Ozawa's state-paid aide.
In response, Aso criticized his opponent, saying: "Companies also have their raison d'etre as members of society. Even though there are suspicions that (the Ozawa camp) has not even observed the existing law, blaming the system is tantamount to sidestepping the argument."

What Aso was apparently trying to say was that Ozawa's failure to provide a proper explanation about the scandal is the problem, and corporate donations are not necessarily bad.

But both sides ended the debate by presenting self-serving arguments over accountability on the Ozawa problem and the fact that some LDP politicians had also received dubious donations from Nishimatsu Construction Co. Most people must have found the exchange unconvincing.

What caught our attention was the following strong statement by Hatoyama: "One side has an aide arrested while the other side is left untouched. Is this what career prosecutors should be doing? We have to put an end to this bureaucracy-led government."

But overstressing this point would blur Minshuto's crucial counterproposal to establish a citizen-led government as opposed to the bureaucrat-led one under the LDP.

The 45-minute debate was quite unsatisfactory to voters seeking clues on how to choose a government. There are many themes we want the party leaders to debate, such as how to finance their policies and their views on security and the Constitution.

Wednesday's debate virtually kicked off the campaign for the next Lower House election. Since both leaders say they will not avoid debates, we urge them to continue exchanging views on a weekly basis.

To delve deeper into issues, why not have the party leaders take turns deciding what topics to debate?


« 自殺者3万人―安全網を張り直さねば | トップページ | 社説:党首討論 毎週開いたらどうか »





« 自殺者3万人―安全網を張り直さねば | トップページ | 社説:党首討論 毎週開いたらどうか »