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2009年9月10日 (木)

3党連立合意 日米同盟の火種とならないか

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Sep. 10, 2009)
Coalition deal could shake alliance with U.S.
3党連立合意 日米同盟の火種とならないか(9月10日付・読売社説)

A major hurdle has finally been cleared for the launching of a new coalition cabinet under Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama, as the DPJ, the Social Democratic Party and People's New Party on Wednesday reached an agreement to form a coalition.

Their policy agreement comprises 10 items, including a freeze on the consumption tax rate and a drastic review of postal-related services.

Regarding diplomatic and security issues, which were sticking points in talks for forming the coalition, the agreed document includes a review of the planned realignment of U.S. forces in Japan and the role of U.S. bases in Japan, as well as a proposal to revise the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, all of which were requests by the SDP. The DPJ had been reticent about including these pledges in the agreement, but it ended up conceding after the PNP sided with the SDP.

The new administration, however, could find itself tied to the specific wording of the document, and could hamper its relations with the United States. This could cause problems in the future.


Relocation plan already set

The U.S. government has said it will not renegotiate with Japan over a plan, agreed by both governments, to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture. Though the prefectural government is calling for minor amendments, it has accepted the relocation plan within the prefecture as it has placed priority on an early return of the U.S. air base to Japan.

Is it really responsible for the government to call for a review of the relocation plan, which both the United States and local governments already have accepted, without offering any realistic alternatives? This also could damage the relationship of trust underlying the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

Such important issues as foreign and security policy affect the very foundation of the nation, and the DPJ must not concede these points so easily to the SDP out of concerns that not conceding could affect the cohesion of the coalition government.

On the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean, the SDP dropped its demand for the immediate withdrawal of the mission. But the DPJ still has no intention to extend the mission beyond its expiration in mid-January.

As alternatives to the refueling mission, the DPJ is considering such measures as increased humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan.

But physical support in the form of MSDF personnel and financial support to Afghanistan should be seen as "two wheels on the same cart." Putting an end to physical support would be a big step backwards for Japan's international cooperation activities. The DPJ should reconsider the planned end of the MSDF mission.


Unbalanced influence?

During talks for forming the coalition, the three parties agreed to set up a consultation body of party leader-level cabinet members rather than a policy consultation body of the ruling parties as proposed by the SDP.

The agreement is a compromise between the SDP, which wants to secure a say in the administration, and the DPJ, which intends to establish a system to unify decision-making functions in the cabinet without the involvement of ruling parties.

The worry is that the SDP and PNP might choose to stick to their guns on certain issues just to make their presence felt. This would certainly shake the DPJ-led administration. Indeed, there have been a number of coalition governments in the past in which junior partners have exerted control over the main coalition partner.

The SDP has emphasized an "equal" partnership among the three parties. But this concept lacks merit, given that the DPJ won 308 seats in the House of Representatives election compared with seven for the SDP and three for the PNP.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 10, 2009)
(2009年9月10日01時08分  読売新聞)


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