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2009年9月 1日 (火)

政権移行始動 基本政策は継続性が重要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Sep. 1, 2009)
Continuity important for basic policies
政権移行始動 基本政策は継続性が重要だ(9月1日付・読売社説)

Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama has begun the process of launching a new administration. It is important for Hatoyama, first and foremost, to divide the policies pledged in the DPJ's manifesto into those that should be implemented immediately and those that the party should take time to fine-tune.


The DPJ has said that a new "national strategy bureau" that it will establish under the direct control of the prime minister will serve as a control tower for the government's budget compilation and foreign policy.

The central government ministries and agencies have submitted their respective budgetary requests for fiscal 2010 ahead of Monday's deadline. The DPJ, however, plans to review the budgetary request guidelines, which were approved by the Cabinet on July 1.

A total of 7.1 trillion yen will be needed in the next fiscal year to fund the child benefit program and other policies that the DPJ pledged in its manifesto. Although the DPJ has promised that an "administrative reform council," another new government body the DPJ plans to establish, will eliminate wasteful spending, can the necessary funds be squeezed out merely through belt-tightening measures?

The DPJ also is studying making savings by cutting some expenditures in the fiscal 2009 supplementary budget and appropriating the saved funds for the fiscal 2010 budget. But the party should deal carefully with the review of the supplementary budget, which is supporting the nation's economy.

Since the establishment of the national strategy bureau requires a revision of a related law, Hatoyama plans to first create a strategy office, which can be set up under a new government ordinance, and have it present the outline of the fiscal 2010 budget. Wasting time in creating the new organization, however, will end up delaying budget compilation.

Hatoyama should take to heart the importance of implementing economic measures speedily.

After being appointed prime minister at a special Diet session that is scheduled to be convened in the middle of this month, Hatoyama plans to visit the United States, where he will undertake summit diplomacy.

Hatoyama is scheduled to attend summit-level meetings on climate change and nuclear nonproliferation at the United Nations in New York and address the U.N. General Assembly. He also is scheduled to attend the Group of 20 financial summit meeting in Pittsburgh.


Emissions pledge unrealistic

Observers, however, have already voiced concerns about how Hatoyama will handle a midterm target for reducing Japan's emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases by the end of 2020.

The DPJ has proposed that the emissions of such gases be reduced by 25 percent from the 1990 levels.

If Hatoyama, as prime minister, repeats the DPJ's pledge at the General Assembly meeting or any other key international meetings, it is possible that Japan will be required to meet this numerical target under a successor treaty to the 2008-12 Kyoto Protocol being negotiated for conclusion by the end of December.

The goal of reducing gas emissions by 25 percent from the 1990 levels will not be attainable merely with halfhearted energy-saving efforts. It requires innovative technological development. But there are limits to what Japan can achieve.

Emissions cuts have economic side effects, such as downward pressure on gross domestic product, and damaging people's livelihoods.

The DPJ should take this power transfer as an opportunity to review the midterm target from a pragmatic perspective. At least, it should avoid the foolish act of constraining itself by presenting such a high target as an international pledge.

Hatoyama has stated that a DPJ-led administration will need to respect the need for continuity in diplomatic and security policies, to a certain extent.

The next step he needs to take is to tell world leaders that the power transfer will not change Japan's basic stance on diplomatic relations and build relationships of trust with them.


Japan-U.S. alliance key

While in the United States, Hatoyama is expected to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in their first Japan-U.S. summit talks. At that time, he should confirm that both countries will firmly uphold the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The DPJ has maintained that the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture should be transferred outside the prefecture or outside the country, although both countries have already agreed that the transfer will be made within the prefecture.

A review of the transfer agreement is equivalent to breach of the bilateral promise, which would inevitably damage the relationship of mutual trust between Japan and the United States.

Hatoyama also said that his party would study enshrining into law Japan's three nonnuclear principles: Nuclear weapons shall not be developed, possessed or brought into Japan. Concerning the third principle, Hatoyama said he would ask Obama to clarify that the United States will not bring nuclear weapons into Japan. Such a request would be regarded as an abrogation of the U.S. military's nuclear deterrent role.

The DPJ has argued that the Japan-U.S. relationship should be one between equals, but Hatoyama should not cling to abstract logic that lacks backing with concrete policy measures and make remarks that may undermine the bilateral alliance.


DPJ shouldn't cave in to SDP

During the campaign period for the House of Representatives election, Hatoyama vacillated on the Maritime Self-Defense Force's mission to refuel vessels of other countries in the Indian Ocean as part of antiterrorism operations. He initially said it would be maintained for the time being, but later said the mission would not be extended after January next year.

The Social Democratic Party, which the DPJ views as a prospective coalition partner, has been calling for Japan to immediately withdraw from the Indian Ocean mission.

On the antipiracy mission in waters off Somalia, the DPJ says it would allow the MSDF to be deployed, but the SDP opposes such a move. In its negotiations with the SDP on forming a coalition, the DPJ should not make easy concessions.

The DPJ must clearly demonstrate both at home and abroad a policy of continuity in respect of these issues as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, North Korea's nuclear missile development will continue to pose a serious threat to Japan, even after the administration changes. Together with the issue of the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents, the problem cannot be overlooked.

In the last ordinary Diet session, the DPJ refused to enter deliberations on various bills after it and other parties passed a censure motion against Prime Minister Taro Aso. As a result, a bill to enable inspections of North Korean cargo was scrapped.

The bill was designed to smoothly carry out the U.N. Security Council's resolution on sanctions against North Korea. It is indispensable that the bill pass the Diet as soon as possible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 1, 2009)
(2009年9月1日01時28分  読売新聞)


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