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2010年8月28日 (土)

小沢氏出馬表明 日本の針路を競う代表選に

to fend off a barrage of questions from the opposition camp
右顧左眄(うこさべん) =右を見たり左を見たりして迷うこと。左顧右眄。
Kokugo Dai Jiten Dictionary. Shinsou-ban (Revised edition) ゥ Shogakukan 1988/国語大辞典(新装版)ゥ小学館 1988

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 28, 2010)
DPJ election should be battle over policy
小沢氏出馬表明 日本の針路を競う代表選に(8月27日付・読売社説)

The Democratic Party of Japan's upcoming presidential election is almost certain to be a two-man race between Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who is seeking reelection as DPJ chief, and former party Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa.

Selecting the leader of the largest ruling party is effectively synonymous with choosing the next prime minister.  与党第1党の党首選は首相選びに直結する。

We hope the DPJ will choose the winner of the race through a serious battle of words concerning the course this country should take.
The election should not be reduced to a race in which its two opposing camps struggle to win party members over to their respective sides, thus determining which can seize power: the bloc that wants Ozawa removed from the center of the party and the government, or the side that supports him.

Ozawa has expressed his intention to run in the Sept. 14 election, campaigning for which will start Wednesday.  小沢氏は、9月1日告示、14日投開票の党代表選に出馬する意向を表明した。

His move comes after he secured the support of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama; Ozawa had been considering entering the race if he could receive support from a wide range of DPJ lawmakers.

However, this does not mean Ozawa has been guaranteed support from most DPJ members.

Attempt at truce failed

A key factor behind the Kan-Ozawa showdown is the bitter discord between the former DPJ secretary general and senior party leaders seeking to eliminating his influence within the party, including the prime minister, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku and party Secretary General Yukio Edano.

Ozawa's announcement of his decision to run was preceded by Hatoyama's attempt to broker a compromise between Kan and Ozawa, in the hope of averting a deepening schism among intraparty groups.

However, Kan was reluctant to accept Hatoyama's request to ensure key figures from each intraparty group, including Ozawa, were represented in the party's leadership and the Cabinet, in what could be called a whole-party approach.

This bitterly antagonized Ozawa.
A decision by Ozawa not to run would have enabled Kan to win unopposed, a development that would cost the veteran DPJ kingpin support among a number of party members. Ozawa's decision to run can be seen as a last-resort measure to avoid this.

Kan's rejection of Hatoyama's request caused the former prime minister to shift his support from Kan to Ozawa. Hatoyama earlier said he would back Kan's bid to be reelected as DPJ president, provided he adopts a whole-party approach.

Hatoyama's obvious change of heart must be criticized as unacceptable. It is disconcerting that he has endorsed Ozawa's bid to become DPJ leader--we should remember that Hatoyama stepped down as party head and prime minister before the House of Councillors election in July to take the blame for the turmoil arising from his poorly thought-out approach to politically divisive issues, at the same time urging Ozawa to resign as party secretary general.

Ozawa's decision to run in the wake of Hatoyama's failed peacemaking means he has concluded that taking the DPJ's top post will be the best way for him to escape the damned-if-he-does-and-damned-if-he-doesn't situation he is in. All this likely will turn the upcoming election into a battle that will divide the ruling party. The DPJ could be broken up into different groups and this could eventually result in a new round of political realignment--that is, new splits and mergers among both ruling and opposition parties.

Back to basics

Some groups of pro-Ozawa DPJ legislators have insisted their party "return to square one" in policy administration, saying the party's defeat in the upper house election was the result of its failure to honor its manifesto for last year's general election. These groups also have criticized Kan for stating his administration would explore the possibility of raising the consumption tax rate during campaigning for the upper house election.

However, it is easy to see that lavish handout policies such as child-rearing allowances cannot be carried out as initially pledged, given the extremely optimistic estimate drawn up by the DPJ regarding the necessary financial resources.

If Ozawa truly believes in a back-to-square-one approach, he must show what kind of realistic measures would be implemented to raise the funds necessary for promised policies, while also presenting a timetable for each policy as soon as possible.

This is not the only thing on Ozawa's must-do list; he must also fulfill his duty to answer questions about the political funding scandal surrounding him.

Ozawa's politics-and-money scandal includes alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law in connection with a shady land purchase by his funds management organization. During the last ordinary Diet session, Ozawa refused to attend the House of Representatives' Deliberative Council on Political Ethics and state his position on the issue. He also escaped being forced to testify under oath in the Diet.

However, it will be extremely difficult for Ozawa to fend off a barrage of questions from the opposition camp in the divided Diet. The upper house is at the mercy of the opposition bloc due to the ruling coalition's loss of its majority in the July election, while the ruling parties have an overwhelming majority in the lower house.

Ozawa seeking escape?

Ozawa will be automatically indicted in connection with his alleged funding irregularities if a Tokyo independent inquest-of-prosecution panel decides in autumn that his case merits indictment, after reconsidering prosecutors' earlier decision not to do so.

The Constitution contains an article that stipulates ministers of the state "shall not be subject to legal action without the consent of the Prime Minister" during their time in office.

Some DPJ members who support Kan have said Ozawa may be seeking to become prime minister in the hope of taking advantage of this constitutional provision to escape indictment.

What will Ozawa actually do, if and when the judiciary panel concludes he should be indicted? Well before the committee reaches its eventual decision on the case in question, Ozawa should tell the public how he will deal with such a situation.

Meanwhile, Kan must take seriously Ozawa's candidacy for their party's leadership.

The DPJ's top echelon, including the prime minister, has done little to settle the dispute over their responsibility for the party's electoral setback. Neither have they fully analyzed why the ruling party was defeated in the upper house race. This failure has done much to foster discontent among many DPJ members.

There is no denying that many DPJ lawmakers feel uneasy about Kan's ability--or lack thereof--to manage his own party and make decisions about government policies.

Take this nation's current economic crisis--including the recent surge in the value of the yen and falling stock prices. The Kan administration has been slow to address these problems. Despite having to campaign for his reelection as DPJ chief, Kan must fulfill his duties to run the country as prime minister.

Kan must speak clearly

If he hopes to amend the manifesto, the prime minister should reexamine the policies the DPJ-led government has implemented since the party took power, while also clearly showing the public which policies will be changed and which will be kept in place.

This also applies to Kan's approach to the consumption tax issue. He should be resolute in stating his opinions about the matter.

The current DPJ came into being in 2003, when Kan and Ozawa agreed to merge their respective parties, with the aim of toppling the then Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition from power and establishing a DPJ-led administration. In those days, the DPJ was headed by Kan and the defunct Liberal Party by Ozawa.

Even since its inauguration, the current DPJ has been described as a "mutual aid society" aimed at ensuring its two constituent parties help each other in elections. The DPJ-LP integration also has been dismissed as a merger that lacks political goals and principles.

In fact, the DPJ has yet to lay out guiding principles for such fundamental policies as constitutional amendment, national security and reform of the consumption tax.

The ruling party's inadequacy in this has hindered progress in implementing such key policies.

Kan and Ozawa should lock horns in a debate over their party's basic policies, instead of fearing that their battle in the DPJ leadership race could lead to a rupture in the party or renewed alignment of political parties and groups.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 27, 2010)
(2010年8月27日01時23分  読売新聞)


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