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2012年10月13日 (土)

党首会談打診 民主は臨時国会から逃げるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 13, 2012)
DPJ should not avoid opening Diet session
党首会談打診 民主は臨時国会から逃げるな(10月12日付・読売社説)

The government and the Democratic Party of Japan have been dragging their feet in convening an extraordinary Diet session.

Although their actions give the appearance that they are very carefully taking the necessary steps, we think they are actually trying to postpone the extraordinary session and delay dissolving the House of Representatives for a general election.

New party executives of the DPJ and the Liberal Democratic Party have held their first face-to-face meeting, at which Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told LDP President Shinzo Abe, "We intend to hold an extraordinary Diet session at an appropriate time." Noda also suggested that he and Abe hold a meeting with New Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi, and the LDP agreed.

Party officials at the secretary general-level are said to be working out the particulars of the meeting, but concrete results have yet to emerge.

Our questions is, when will be the "appropriate time"?


Bond bill needs attention

Noda wants the meeting of the leaders of the three parties to smooth the passage of a bill to allow the government to issue deficit-covering bonds.

If the bill is not enacted, state coffers are expected to run dry by the end of November. The government has already put in place curbs on budgetary spending, such as withholding allocations to local governments, which has vexed some prefectural governments. If the situation continues, the daily lives of ordinary people could be more widely affected in areas such as social security and education.

The LDP's position is that it will not cooperate over the bond bill unless the prime minister makes a clear promise on dissolving the lower house. However, we oppose any course that would make "hostages" out of people's daily lives. It appears the LDP is using the same tactics as were employed under former party president Sadakazu Tanigaki, which only led to political stalemate.

Meanwhile, the DPJ has elected not to apply for the quarterly state subsidies allotted to political parties this month, saying it bears responsibility for not having passed the bond bill and thus the subsequent restrictions on government spending. This act alone does nothing to solve the problem.


DPJ disconnect

DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi said passing the deficit-covering bond bill and correcting vote disparities in lower house elections "must be solved without wasting any time." However, the DPJ No. 2 seems hesitant to convene an extraordinary Diet session--a contradiction of words and deeds.

Koshiishi probably fears that once the Diet is in session, his party would splinter further, driving the administration into a corner where it has no choice but to dissolve the lower house.

Wasn't Noda's new Cabinet formed to "strengthen Cabinet functions...to cope with a number of issues both at home and abroad"? It seems to be a matter of course to immediately convene an extraordinary Diet session so the prime minister and members of his new Cabinet can deliver speeches and be questioned before the legislators.

And there are plenty of issues to be debated, such as diplomacy toward China and South Korea, whether to participate in negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement, and the establishment of a national council to reform the social security system.

Lawmakers also need to examine the donations made to a political organization headed by Justice Minister Keishu Tanaka by a company run by a foreign national, as well as the "siphoning" of funds earmarked to rebuild areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake to projects not directly related to the affected areas.

The biggest problem is that the next moves of the prime minister, with his fresh Cabinet and new party leadership lineup, remain a mystery.

We urge Noda to set new political goals while steadily making progress in addressing immediate issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 12, 2012)
(2012年10月12日01時44分  読売新聞)


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