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2009年7月18日 (土)

社説:自民党 あきれる七転八倒ぶり

(Mainichi Japan) July 17, 2009
社説:自民党 あきれる七転八倒ぶり

Ailing LDP needs concrete policies to appeal to voters, not just a new 'face'
In spite of the announcement made by Prime Minister Taro Aso and the ruling coalition's top officials that the Lower House will be dissolved on July 21 at the earliest and a general election will take place on Aug. 30, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislators objecting to the plans submitted a petition on Thursday for a joint plenary meeting of party members from both houses of the Diet. There has already been a drive to withdraw the petition, however, and LPD leadership will refuse to convene a general LDP meeting.
It is quite a fiasco the LDP has staged ahead of the upcoming election.

As it turns out, not all the legislators who had signed the petition were demanding that Aso step down before the general election. However, the signing of the petition by Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, the de facto No. 2 of the Aso Cabinet, once again demonstrates without a doubt that Aso's ability to govern is lacking. This is because if, in fact, a joint plenary meeting of LDP legislators does take place, and the decision is made to hold an election for party president sooner than expected, it is likely that dissolution of the Lower House will be delayed due to the party president election and the Diet's nomination and vote on the prime minister. Aso will be forced to bear grave political responsibility for any changes made to the timing of the Lower House's dissolution, at which point he may resign.

Meanwhile, however, the legislators who are pushing for Aso's resignation do not have a legitimate cause. As we have pointed out repeatedly, it would be unreasonable for the LDP to replace the prime minister four times based merely on its own convenience, without seeking any input from the public. Aso is not the only object of the people's mistrust. The people's suspicion is directed toward an entire party that fails to live up to the responsibility of selecting its leaders, merely changing its "cover," or frontman, whenever popularity ratings take a dive.

Furthermore, it is not as if party members have a post-Aso figure in mind. It is symbolic that the latest petition activities were led by former LDP Secretary-General Hidenao Nakagawa, an advocate of Koizumi-era reforms, and Koichi Kato, also a former LDP secretary-general and a leading critic of Koizumi's reforms. Once again, principles and policies have been sidelined. What the party seeks is a "face" that will be popular. There are even rumors that some legislators who fear they may lose the next general election are trying to run for the next party president.

Still some LDP legislators have proclaimed -- in all seriousness -- that they will create a new manifesto separate from the party's unless they cannot force Aso to step down before the election. They seem to miss the point of a manifesto, or a campaign pledge, which indicates a party's plans for government and for which the party is held responsible. To reject Prime Minister Aso even while maintaining membership in the LDP and taking the liberty of creating manifestos for each electoral district is tantamount to defrauding voters.

First and foremost, legislators cannot expect to earn the public's acceptance and understanding by pushing for Aso to step down immediately after rejecting a no-confidence motion brought against the Aso Cabinet in the Lower House. If demands to hold a general meeting of LDP legislators fall through, they are bound to come under even more intense criticism. As we have suggested on numerous occasions previously, if LDP members claim that the general election cannot be fought and won under the leadership of Prime Minister Aso, it would be more logical if they left the LDP and created a new party.

Isn't it about time that the election was fought fair and square, with heads held high? The more the party frantically scrambles to improve political circumstances in their favor, the more it appears to the public that the party has no confidence in the politics in which they have engaged thus far.

毎日新聞 2009年7月17日 東京朝刊


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