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2010年6月19日 (土)

参院選公約 民主党の現実路線は本物か

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 19, 2010)
Has DPJ really taken realistic turn?
参院選公約 民主党の現実路線は本物か(6月18日付・読売社説)

The Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and other political parties have announced their campaign pledges for the House of Councillors election scheduled for July 11.

A number of issues require deep discussion before the election--not least whether the consumption tax rate should be raised. We hope every party will discuss their policies with gusto.

The DPJ manifesto for the upper house poll has a healthier dose of realism than the pledges it made for last year's House of Representatives election.

However, doubts linger over whether the new DPJ manifesto is merely a political gesture intended to draw votes, or if it is a genuine change of direction based firmly on realistic calculations.

On restoring fiscal health, the DPJ has a goal of achieving a primary balance surplus in the budget 10 years from now. To achieve this objective, the manifesto stipulates the party will start a suprapartisan debate on drastic tax reform--including consumption tax.


Clarify tax reform picture

The LDP manifesto says the consumption tax rate should be raised to 10 percent for the time being. The main opposition party came up with this figure based on the costs needed to finance social security.

At a press conference Thursday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, "We'll use the 10 percent proposal contained in the LDP pledges as one reference." As long as the DPJ is calling for suprapartisan debate on tax reform, the party should clarify the whole picture of this reform and what this would entail.

In its latest manifesto, the DPJ erased the "monthly amount of 26 yen,000" for the child allowance it pledged in last year's manifesto. Instead, the 2010 manifesto says the party will provide "something additional" to the 13,000 yen currently handed out each month. The DPJ has given up trying to provide the promised amount because there is not enough money to fund it--although last year the party insisted the cash would be found.

However, the party has retained dole-out measures such as income support for farming households and a plan to abolish expressway tolls. We think the DPJ should review these measures, too.

In diplomatic and security fields, the party dropped the expression "move in the direction of reexamining" the role of U.S. military bases in Japan. On the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, the party vows to "do its utmost to lessen Okinawa Prefecture's burden based on the Japan-U.S. agreement."

Last year, the DPJ did not mention China's steady military expansion. This time, however, the manifesto calls for China to be more transparent in its national defense policy.


Omitting inconveniences

It is only natural that the ruling party has shifted its stance after taking into consideration the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and Japan's security environment.

Notable in the latest DPJ manifesto is the omission of a time schedule for each policy measure in each fiscal year. Last year's manifesto included such information. Similarly, the party did not provide a booklet of policy details; until last year, the party printed such a booklet to go with its pledges for each national election.

We assume the DPJ left these items out because it does not want voters to later go back and check which policies the party abandoned or revised.

In its "Index 2009," the policy booklet for last year's election, the DPJ included controversial issues including its plan to swiftly introduce local suffrage to permanent foreign residents. The booklet's absence will leave voters unsure if the DPJ still considers these issues as planks of its agenda.

The DPJ should immediately explain where it stands on these matters.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,June 18, 2010)
(2010年6月18日01時05分  読売新聞)


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