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2009年8月 1日 (土)

自民党政権公約 「責任力」に見合う具体策示せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 1, 2009)
Responsible party needs responsible policies
自民党政権公約 「責任力」に見合う具体策示せ(8月1日付・読売社説)

The Liberal Democratic Party unveiled its campaign platform for the upcoming House of Representatives election on Friday.

Although the manifesto contained an unusual phrase lauding the party's "ability to govern responsibly," the LDP was at pains to trumpet that it is a responsible political party and spelled out where it differed from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

However, sections on how the LDP will carry out its policies are riddled with vague explanation. We think the LDP should describe its policies in far more detail during political debates from now on.

The LDP picks up social security system reform and tax system reform from the opening of its manifesto. It says, "We will implement necessary legislative measures by fiscal 2011 in regard to fundamental taxation reform, including a consumption tax rate increase."

The platform then goes on to say the party "will construct a social security system of medium welfare levels and medium burden." The LDP spells out in black and white that it wants the public to bear a fair share of the cost of providing a social security safety net, including through a rise in the consumption tax rate in the future.


Finding the funding

The LDP tried to pick apart the DPJ platform and cast doubt on whether the DPJ can actually find the resources to bankroll its policies. The LDP should be given some credit for having found the courage to mention a consumption tax increase and prodding the public to shoulder a "medium burden" of social security costs. However, the LDP failed to specify crucial details of these policies.

The centerpiece of the LDP manifesto is a policy to phase out preschool fees for children aged 3 to 5, with these fees eventually being waived in fiscal 2012. The policy is a direct counterproposal to the DPJ pledge to offer a monthly allowance of 26,000 yen per child to households with children of middle school age or younger.

However, the LDP will need to wring an additional about 790 billion yen from somewhere to cover the costs of this policy. Although this is a fraction of the 5.5 trillion yen the DPJ will need for its monthly allowance policy, it is still a hefty price tag. The party manifesto offered no clear answers on how it would finance this plan.

If the LDP is serious about extolling its ability to govern responsibly, it should not crank up a skirmish based on pork-barrel spending as it seeks to woo voters.


Security issues

In the diplomatic and national security fields, the platform says that, to counter North Korea's ballistic missile threat, the LDP will implement necessary security measures that will enable the interception of ballistic missiles fired toward the United States as well as protect U.S. vessels operating in cooperation with Japan on the ballistic missile defense shield.

If the LDP suggests there could be a change from the current government interpretation on the right to collective self-defense--in which the nation possesses this right but cannot exercise it--we think the party should have come right out and said so.

The DPJ said in its collection of policies unveiled at the same time as its manifesto that it will not stick to conceptual discussions on whether self-defense is individual or collective. The DPJ's stance can be interpreted as accepting the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, but this lack of clarity makes the party's stance difficult to understand. We think the DPJ needs to flesh out its explanation.

All the major parties have presented their campaign platforms, so now the cut-and-thrust of a full-fledged election campaign can begin in earnest. We hope each party focuses on spreading their messages and policies on pending domestic and international issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 1, 2009)
(2009年8月1日01時18分  読売新聞)


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