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2012年10月31日 (水)

首相所信表明 戦略見えない「明日への責任」

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 31, 2012)
Noda's 'responsibility speech' lacks clear strategy
首相所信表明 戦略見えない「明日への責任」(10月30日付・読売社説)

Since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda touts "responsibility for tomorrow," he needs to present a policy commensurate with this phrase and a strategy to realize it.

An extraordinary Diet session was convened Monday, and Noda delivered a policy speech in the plenary session of the House of Representatives.

From his speech, however, we cannot see what political challenges, following integrated reform of the social security and tax systems, he will place priority on to tackle.

Noda stressed he will realize "a system that would enable effective political decisions" and said revitalizing the economy to end deflation and overcome the current superstrong yen is "the biggest challenge now."

To achieve those goals, it is indispensable for the nation to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework, which would enable Japan to harness the growth of other Asian countries through expansion of free trade.


Why so vague on TPP?

In Monday's policy speech, Noda again failed to officially declare that Japan will participate in the TPP negotiations, but instead only said he will "promote" the accord. Why is that?

Noda is probably concerned about the possibility of Democratic Party of Japan members leaving the party and opposition from agricultural organizations. However, such an inward-looking and defensive attitude will not help Japan find a way out of the economic doldrums.

After the Nov. 6 U.S. presidential election, full-fledged TPP negotiations will start among 11 countries, including the United States and Australia. It is possible that trade and investment rules will be decided next year without Japan's involvement. It is an urgent task for Japan to announce that it will participate in the TPP negotiations.

Doing so would stress the contrast between the DPJ and the Liberal Democratic Party, which is cautious toward the TPP, when it compiles a manifesto for the next lower house election.

Meanwhile, Noda insisted he will implement an energy policy based on the Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment, which sets a target of zero nuclear power plants operating in the 2030s.


Path to zero N-energy unclear

However, the path to achieving zero nuclear power is unclear. It is expected that seeking zero nuclear power would not only destabilize the supply of electricity but also deal a serious blow to people's livelihoods in the form of higher electricity rates and the hollowing-out of domestic industries. Also, it would become difficult to secure excellent human resources in the field of nuclear power.

The government therefore should withdraw its zero nuclear power policy and work out a realistic nuclear and energy policy instead.

Concerning sovereignty and territory issues, Noda only said he will carry out "the natural duty of a nation with unflagging resolve." We want to hear concrete measures from him on how to rebuild Japan's diplomacy toward China, South Korea and Russia.

It is problematic that the Diet session began while the prime minister is still unable to obtain cooperation from leaders of the LDP and New Komeito and he lacks a strategy to break the deadlock.

There is no prospect for passage of a bill that would enable the government to issue deficit-covering bonds and bills related to an electoral reform of the lower house.

Politics will not make any progress by simply blaming opposition parties for "politics of unproductive partisan confrontations with a priority placed on political gamesmanship." The government and ruling parties should make responsible proposals and seek common ground with opposition parties.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 30, 2012)
(2012年10月30日01時18分  読売新聞)


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