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2012年4月12日 (木)

自民党公約原案 TPPや原発に及び腰過ぎる

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 12, 2012)
LDP's draft platform too weak on TPP, N-power
自民党公約原案 TPPや原発に及び腰過ぎる(4月11日付・読売社説)

The main opposition Liberal Democratic Party should not look away from key issues if it seriously aims to return to power.

The LDP has compiled a draft election platform for the next House of Representatives election.

Calling for constitutional amendments, a fundamental issue that led to the party's formation, the LDP has included in the draft platform a proposal to add a new article to better deal with national security contingencies. It also calls for the establishment of a basic security law that will allow the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense.

The draft platform also seeks to curb welfare benefits for people in need while focusing more on measures to encourage self-help efforts.

These proposals are praiseworthy.

As for consumption tax increases--the most contentious issue--the LDP has pledged in the draft platform to establish stable financial and social security systems by raising the tax rate to 10 percent and keeping it at that level for some time.

At first, some LDP members were cautious about referring to a specific tax rate because the party would end up seeking the same rate as the one the government's bill calls for. However, the LDP's failure to stipulate the rate would have meant the party had abandoned its election platform pledge for the 2010 House of Councillors election. It stands to reason that the party has maintained the pledge.


Tax stance no different

The LDP's draft platform shows again that the LDP's stance on the consumption tax hike does not differ significantly from that of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. As long as the LDP has taken up the consumption tax issue in its draft platform, it should accept calls from the government and DPJ to discuss the related bill.

It is problematic that the draft stipulates the LDP opposes the nation's participation in negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework if they are premised on the elimination of all tariffs without exception.

The reference was apparently made out of consideration to agricultural groups that would be negatively affected by the nation's participation in the TPP framework. This underscores the LDP's aim to woo votes from the agricultural sector in future elections.

However, even if the LDP won the next lower house election and returned to power, it would not be able to avoid the TPP issue.

Making inroads into Asian and other emerging markets by promoting free trade is essential to Japan's growth.

The LDP needs to draw up measures to enhance the competitiveness of the nation's agriculture, which has been declining, and shift its stance to support Japan's participation in the TPP negotiations.


Unclear on energy policy

Questions have been also raised over the LDP's position on nuclear power policy. The party failed to show its policy direction in the draft platform because its members could not reach a consensus on whether the nation should continue or discontinue the use of nuclear power.

The draft platform said the LDP will make a final decision on the matter within 10 years after national discussions. As most reactors are currently not in operation, Japan's energy supply is seriously at risk.

Postponing a decision for 10 years on the matter is way too irresponsible.

It is the LDP that has stressed the need for nuclear power generation for many years. The party's prefectural chapter in Aomori, where nuclear power facilities are located, and others concerned have criticized the party for being wishy-washy on the matter. The LDP should present specific mid- and long-term policies on nuclear power and other energy sources.

In a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey, the LDP's approval rating stood at 16 percent, below the DPJ's 17 percent. The LDP's failure to clarify its stance on key issues may be one thing preventing the party from regaining its strength.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 11, 2012)
(2012年4月11日01時22分  読売新聞)


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