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2010年8月 8日 (日)

臨時国会閉幕 ねじれ打開へ政権公約見直せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 8, 2010)
DPJ, opposition must rise above divided Diet
臨時国会閉幕 ねじれ打開へ政権公約見直せ(8月7日付・読売社説)

As the so-called divided Diet threatens to paralyze national politics, it is necessary for ruling and opposition parties to overcome the impasse and build consensus on policy issues. But, regrettably, we saw no movement in that direction during the extraordinary Diet session that closed Friday.

The focal point of the eight-day Diet session, the first since the House of Councillors election last month, was how the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan and opposition parties would behave in a divided Diet, in which the ruling camp controls the House of Representatives while the opposition controls the upper house.

Do as we say, not as we did

During question-and-answer sessions of the budget committees of each chamber, which were held for four days in total, Kan sought the opposition's cooperation, saying, "I'd like to ask you to have discussions in a way that will enable necessary policies to be implemented."

Regarding the previous divided Diet, under which the then opposition Democratic Party of Japan obstructed the then ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on such issues as the appointment of a Bank of Japan governor, Kan said, "We'd like to reflect on what should be reflected on." He thus maintained a humble attitude.

But such perfunctory statements alone do not make the situation better. As the LDP and other parties insist, a drastic modification of the DPJ's policy pledges is inevitable.

It now has become apparent that revenue sources for child-rearing allowances and other handout policies stipulated in the DPJ manifesto cannot be secured simply by rearranging the state budget. These policies now are in a state of collapse.

Given that Kan seeks to hold on to his position as DPJ president in an intraparty election next month, he probably does not want to drastically change the policy pledges as it would ignite opposition within the party. But he won't be able to obtain the opposition's cooperation if the situation remains unchanged.

During the latest extraordinary Diet session, a bill to enable lawmakers to return part of their salary should they not serve for an entire month was enacted. Another bill to allow an organization to continue operating social insurance hospitals also was enacted. But these achievements alone do not make us think the ruling and opposition parties have started cooperating.

Because of disarray among opposition parties, they dropped a plan to submit censure motions against some Cabinet members, including Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, who failed to be reelected in the upper house election. But the opposition camp likely will press the ruling camp hard on such issues as the politics and money scandals involving former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa during an extraordinary Diet session scheduled for autumn.

The opposition parties blasted the Kan administration for giving up a plan to create a national strategy bureau, saying it would be a step backward in efforts to enhance politicians' power in the handling of government affairs. A bill to set up such a bureau has been carried over for continued deliberations.

We suggest the prime minister call for discussions between the ruling and opposition camps to modify the bill. In doing so, it would be beneficial to bring up the idea of creating a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, as earlier proposed by the LDP-New Komeito ruling coalition.

Focus on shared goals

Since both the ruling and opposition camps wish to implement plans to strengthen politicians' control of government affairs and expand the functions of the Prime Minister's Office, it should be possible for them to start deliberations on these issues.

It is not an easy task for one party to win a majority in upper house elections. The divided Diet may continue for some time. If the Diet fails to make any important decisions or fails to respond quickly to an economic or diplomatic crisis, Japan will face a further decline in its standing.

The ruling and opposition camps should seriously search for a way to build consensus.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 7, 2010)
(2010年8月7日01時18分  読売新聞)


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