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2010年12月 5日 (日)

衆参「ねじれ」 機能不全見せつけた臨時国会

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 5, 2010)
Diet session reveals Kan govt failures
衆参「ねじれ」 機能不全見せつけた臨時国会(12月4日付・読売社説)

The nearly-two-month extraordinary Diet session ended Friday.

However, no deep deliberations on policy issues were held in the session. Instead, only the malfunctioning of Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government was exposed. Without rethinking its strategy completely, the Kan Cabinet will not be able to survive the ordinary Diet session to be convened early next year.

The government was able to pass only about 30 percent of the bills it sponsored in the session. This demonstrates the Kan Cabinet's shortcomings in implementing policies.

In the so-called divided Diet in which the opposition controls the House of Councillors, the government and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan initially looked for "a partial coalition" in which they hoped to cooperate with opposition parties depending on the policy and the bill.

However, the Kan Cabinet's approval rate dropped substantially after it mishandled foreign affairs such as its responses to the collisions between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard patrol boats off the Senkaku Islands, and the nation's relations with Russia over the northern territories issue. It was natural that the Kan Cabinet was forsaken by New Komeito, whose cooperation it had asked for over the fiscal 2010 supplementary budget and other issues.

Ozawa scandal lingers

The politics-and-money scandal involving former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa is no closer to resolution, either. The bottom line is that the prime minister has never exercised his leadership over the issue. This has just reinforced the public impression that the DPJ is unable to clean its own house.

Though he once declared he would support the party as a foot soldier, Ozawa kept refusing requests by DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada to attend the Deliberative Council on Political Ethics in the House of Representatives. Not only that, Ozawa is trying to pressure the DPJ leadership by showing off the solidarity of party members supporting him.

The government's 2009 report on political funds revealed that Rikuzan-kai, Ozawa's political funds management organization, collected the largest amount of funds that year among political organizations. In addition, it is suspected that funds of the defunct Japan Renewal Party flowed into Rikuzan-kai, which allegedly used them to pay off a loan from Ozawa.

We believe this only makes Ozawa's accountability even heavier.

Ozawa is soon to face mandatory indictment based on the decision of a Tokyo inquest of prosecution committee. This will be a heavy drag for the DPJ as nationwide local government elections scheduled next spring approach.

Impact of censure motions

A new focus of attention is how much impact censure motions against Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, a linchpin of the Kan Cabinet, and Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Sumio Mabuchi will have on the political situation.

The opposition Liberal Democratic Party will adopt a stern posture against the DPJ at the upcoming ordinary Diet session. For one thing, the main opposition party will not consider Sengoku and Mabuchi as cabinet members, said Ichiro Aisawa, the LDP's Diet affairs chief.

The prime minister will sooner or later reach a deadlock in the Diet unless he hangs tight and works very hard to break the impasse.

The Kan administration is facing a variety of policy issues such as a hike of the consumption tax rate, relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture and Japan's participation in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiatives.

It must construct a new political framework to solve these problems by considering a bold partnership with an opposition party. To make this happen, the government and the DPJ need to quickly change policies based on election pledges the party had made for the 2009 House of Representatives election, which have already fallen by the wayside anyway.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 4, 2010)
(2010年12月4日01時47分  読売新聞)


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