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2009年6月 3日 (水)

延長国会 衆院選へ実のある政策論戦を

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 3, 2009)
Earnest debate vital in extended Diet session
延長国会 衆院選へ実のある政策論戦を(6月3日付・読売社説)

The current Diet session has been extended by 55 days through July 28, and it looks highly likely that Prime Minister Taro Aso will dissolve the House of Representatives before the extended session ends.

We hope the ruling and opposition parties will earnestly engage in policy debates during the extended session, including holding discussions on securing stable funding for the social security system and national security. Such debates would provide voters with a basis for considered judgment of each party's platform ahead of the coming general election.

The Diet will discuss important bills, including those related to the fiscal 2009 supplementary budget, an antipiracy bill and a bill to revise the National Pension Law. The ruling parties must ensure these bills are passed during the current Diet session.

Aso sought the extension of the current Diet session in an apparent attempt to expand his options regarding the timing of the dissolution of the lower house for the general election and to keep the political initiative.

The Democratic Party of Japan, on the other hand, is seeking the dissolution of the lower house at an early date.

We hope the main opposition party, which has said it will not resort to employing tactics to unnecessarily prolong Diet 審議引き延ばし戦術は取らないとしている以上、粛々と法案の審議を進めてもらいたい。
deliberations, will commit itself to holding straightforward deliberations on the bills.


Paying for pensions

With the lower house election now in sight, each political party likely will move to shape their respective campaign platforms.

In the lower house election, the parties should debate basic policy differences and their vision for the future of this nation.

To pull this country out of the worst postwar economic crisis, it is right and proper to actively carry out fiscal stimulus measures in the short term and make all-out efforts to prop up the economy.

In the medium- to long-term, however, the question of how to secure stable resources to fund the social security system and other spending must be addressed.

The Liberal Democratic Party, which has said it expects it will take three years for the country's economy to fully recover, has said it will raise the consumption tax rate to fund the social security system while trimming government expenditure at the same time after this three-year period ends.

The DPJ, for its part, maintains it will secure 20 trillion yen by eliminating wasteful spending--a policy that lacks precision and detail.

Concerning the consumption tax, DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama said there is no need to debate a consumption tax hike for the next four years. This stance can only serve to heighten concerns over the prospects for the nation's social security system.


Security a key issue

Discussion focusing on the specifics of national security policy also is necessary.

DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada has, for example, proposed an international treaty that would make Japan and the Korean Peninsula a nuclear weapon-free zone. Okada has urged the United States to abandon the preemptive use of nuclear weapons and said Japan will step out from under the U.S. nuclear umbrella if such a treaty comes about.

Okada also said North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons is a precondition. However, Pyongyang has thrown the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty into the garbage bin. Simply proposing a treaty can never remove this nuclear threat.

Furthermore, China and Russia are nuclear-armed. China's missiles are locked on Japan as well. Japan's peace and security would not be guaranteed should the country unilaterally step out from beneath the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

If Aso and Hatoyama make clear their differences on these matters through head-to-head debates in the Diet, these differences likely would become key points of contention in the lower house election campaign.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 3, 2009)
(2009年6月3日01時34分  読売新聞)


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