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2010年4月 2日 (金)

党首討論 真正面から懸案を論じ合え

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 2, 2010)

Party heads shouldn't evade issues in debates
党首討論 真正面から懸案を論じ合え(4月1日付・読売社説)

Diet debates between Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and major opposition party leaders, the second of their kind during

the current Diet session, were held Wednesday.

Sadakazu Tanigaki, president of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party who was criticized for failing to land a telling

punch during the previous debate, went on the offensive against Hatoyama over the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine

Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.

Tanigaki told Hatoyama that he should step down or seek a public mandate by dissolving the House of Representatives for

a general election if he failed to resolve the relocation issue by the end of May, a deadline the prime minister has set.

In his response, Hatoyama said: "I'll stake my life [on resolving the relocation issue] and will not fail. Please trust the

government." As these verbal exchanges indicate, the debate between these two leaders turned out to be held in an

atmosphere more tense than the previous one.

During the latter half of the current Diet session, this kind of debate should be held more often, particularly on issues that

may affect the very foundations of the nation, such as diplomacy, taxation and national finances.


Futenma issue up in air

In criticizing Hatoyama on the Futenma relocation issue, Tanigaki said the government had yet to come up with a unified

alternative proposal after turning down the existing plan reached during the administration of the LDP-led coalition

government, which had won the understanding of the U.S. government and people of Okinawa Prefecture, and then stirring

up expectations among the prefecture's residents that their burden of hosting U.S. bases would be eased.


Hatoyama refuted this by saying he already had his own plan in mind, which he said "is as effective as the existing one or

even more effective [in maintaining the U.S. deterrence and in easing Okinawa Prefecture's burdens]."

Yet he offered nothing concrete and was far from convincing as he only expressed his determination to conclude the issue

as early as possible.

With regard to the falsification of the political funds report of Hatoyama's fund management organization by his former

state-funded secretary, Tanigaki called on the prime minister to fulfill his responsibility by explaining the case, as

deliberations in the trial have ended.

Hatoyama responded to this by saying, "I will meet the expectations of the public by working hard." What the public is

seeking is the truth. The fact that he continues to make such evasions on the ground that the case is still pending in court

is unpardonable.


New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi also took a more confrontational stance toward the Hatoyama administration. This

was in stark contrast to the previous round of debate when he only proposed the establishment of an organ on the political

fund issue that could be used by the ruling and opposition parties for consultation.



Cabinet in disarray

While citing examples of disarray within the Cabinet over such issues as the postal reform bill, Yamaguchi lashed out by

saying: "The Cabinet is not functioning...It's truly a disappointing Cabinet."

Hatoyama's responses to the remarks of Tanigaki and Yamaguchi were diffuse to say the least, and the instances where the

prime minister failed to answer the party leaders' questions were conspicuous. It was obvious Hatoyama was playing for

time so as to wrap up the debate as quickly as possible.


In the previous debate, Tanigaki was criticized by members of his own party for failing to land a serious blow on Hatoyama,

prompting such senior members as former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano to call for the party president to be replaced.

This time, Tanigaki seems to have learned from the previous lesson. But nonetheless he failed to rid himself of his tendency

to pull his punches.

Voices can still be heard within the LDP that "we can't fight the [upcoming] House of Councillors election under

Tanigaki's leadership."

Complaining about the poor management of Diet affairs, young and middle-ranking LDP Diet members are calling for a

shake-up of the party's leadership, including Secretary General Tadamori Oshima and Diet Affairs Committee Chairman

Jiro Kawasaki.

Tanigaki's leadership will be tested over whether he can rebuild the LDP as a party full of a fighting spirit.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 1, 2010)
(2010年4月1日01時50分  読売新聞)


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