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2009年8月14日 (金)

社説:09衆院選 党首討論 もどかしさだけが残る

(Mainichi Japan) August 13, 2009
Debate between Aso and Hatoyama was disappointing
社説:09衆院選 党首討論 もどかしさだけが残る

The 90-minute debate between Prime Minister Taro Aso and opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Yukio Hatoyama on Wednesday was frustrating. It was regrettable that their policy discussion lacked substance because it was the last chance for the two candidates to become the next prime minister to have a debate before the upcoming House of Representatives election.

It has been pointed out that the focus of the general election is whether voters will concentrate on their "dissatisfaction" with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) or their "concern" about the DPJ in selecting the next administration. In that sense, both Aso and Hatoyama failed to relieve voters' dissatisfaction and concerns in the debate.

Hatoyama appeared particularly lackluster. He repeated his earlier message that he will transform bureaucrat-dominated politics into one led by legislators and implement "policy measures with a human touch." However, questions he asked Aso lacked an edge.

For example, Hatoyama should have posed severe questions about why the prime minister has failed to prevent retired senior bureaucrats from landing lucrative post-retirement jobs before restrictions on such practices are tightened if the DPJ takes the reins of government. The LDP has pledged to ban bureaucrats from landing post-retirement jobs in organizations they once supervised, but doubts remain about whether it is feasible.

Aso appeared to have carefully prepared questions in advance. The prime minister apparently believes the DPJ cannot explain how it will secure financial resources for policy measures outlined in its manifesto.

Hatoyama explained that a DPJ-led administration would review the way to compile both general and special accounts of the state budget and reduce wasteful outlays and eliminate non-urgent projects to secure enough funds for its policy measures. However, unless he provides a more specific explanation, he will remain on the defensive.

The prime minister went on the offensive over diplomatic and security policies, including the Maritime Self-Defense Force's mission in the Indian Ocean to refuel U.S. and other vessels engaging in the war against terror.

"We just can't allow a political party that has no consistency in its security policy to take over the reins of government," Aso said.
Hatoyama argued that there are measures that can contribute to peace in Afghanistan other than refueling. However, he failed to specify them.

Aso, who has continued to criticize the DPJ as if he has become an opposition leader, cannot be praised, either. He simply emphasized his government's achievements without addressing the widening income gap, a major issue since the previous general election. He also underscored the importance of a strategy for economic growth, but failed to show a road map toward that end.

The debate, organized by the National Congress for 21st Century Japan, has tried to provide voters with important information they can use in selecting the next administration and prime minister.

However, it is regrettable that the debate was not broadcast by terrestrial TV stations out of consideration for other political parties whose leaders did not participate in it. This failure is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in the future.

毎日新聞 2009年8月13日 0時23分


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