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2011年2月11日 (金)

党首討論 激突だけでは議論が深まらぬ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 11, 2011)
Verbal clashes won't induce in-depth debate
党首討論 激突だけでは議論が深まらぬ(2月10日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and major opposition party leaders--Sadakazu Tanigaki of the Liberal Democratic Party and Natsuo Yamaguchi of New Komeito--held their first question-time debates in the Diet on Wednesday.

The debates centered on integrated tax and social security system reforms, but both sides, apparently with the unified local elections in April in mind, stuck stubbornly to their respective positions throughout.

If this kind of debate is the norm, in-depth policy discussions will be a pipe dream, no matter how often question time is held. We hope they will make their debates more constructive.

Tanigaki said the Democratic Party of Japan had failed to honor its manifesto promises, saying the manifesto was not based on the assumption the consumption tax rate would be raised.

He then lashed out at Kan by saying that if the government plans to compile a plan for integrated reforms of the tax and social security systems, including the consumption tax, in June, and review the party manifesto in September, the administration is putting the cart before the horse.

Yamaguchi said the DPJ's failure to keep its manifesto promises constituted a violation of its mandate, and he asked if the administration would assume responsibility.


DPJ manifesto a failure

It is obvious that the DPJ's manifesto is a failure as it is not based on solid financial sources.

Yet Kan stubbornly insisted: "They are policies no previous administration has been able to implement. They are not handout policies."

As long as Kan continues to take such an attitude while calling for cooperation from the opposition parties in discussing tax and social security system reforms, the LDP and New Komeito can hardly be expected to join the debate.

Kan should first acknowledge the errors in the manifesto and agree to review it promptly and drastically.

In the divided Diet, question time should be an opportunity for party leaders to exchange views without reserve and break the legislative gridlock.

When Kan asked Tanigaki whether his party would cooperate in discussing tax and social security systems together once the government compiles a concrete plan, the LDP leader said, "It's absurd for you to ask us to help you break the promises [the DPJ] made to the people."
On top of refusing to cooperate, Tanigaki demanded that Kan dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election.


LDP also has responsibility

The LDP leader's hard-line stance is probably based on the prevailing atmosphere in his party that refuses to extend a helping hand to keep the DPJ-led administration alive, when the public approval rating for the ruling party is so low.

However, the LDP also has a responsibility as a party that held the reins of power for so long. Kan was right in replying, "Calling for dissolution of the lower house [for a general election] without discussing these issues is merely an attempt to put your party's interests first."

If the government and the ruling coalition comes up with a practical reform plan that clearly spells out where the necessary fiscal resources will come from, the LDP should join the discussion.

Another focal point in the question-time debate concerned the political fund scandal involving former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa, who was indicted last week.

Tanigaki and Yamaguchi reiterated their demands that the ruling coalition have Ozawa appear as a sworn witness before the Diet.

Kan brushed off these demands by saying, "The issue should be discussed thoroughly in the Diet and then we could have him explain his case at an appropriate venue."

To resolve the issue, the prime minister should soon comply with the opposition bloc's request to have Ozawa, who continues to avoid explaining his involvement in the Diet, summoned as a sworn witness.

As things stand now, Kan has only deepened the impression that the DPJ is a party that cannot make decisions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 10, 2011)
(2011年2月10日01時10分  読売新聞)


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