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2012年11月 3日 (土)

民主党公約検証 破綻した原因の究明が先だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 3, 2012)
DPJ must honestly review 2009 campaign manifesto
民主党公約検証 破綻した原因の究明が先だ(11月2日付・読売社説)

What ever motivated the Democratic Party of Japan to release that irresponsible set of campaign pledges three years ago?

After a great deal of soul-searching, the DPJ must recast its "manifesto" for the next House of Representatives election.

The DPJ held a meeting Thursday of party officials in charge of policy affairs, including members from prefectural chapters, to report on the findings of a review of how many of its 2009 election pledges have been realized.

According to the party leadership, no more than about 30 percent of the 170 proposals the party committed to have been fully implemented, with successes including the elimination of tuition fees at public high schools and introducing an income support system for individual farming households.

The largest proportion was policies the party says have been partially implemented, including child rearing allowances. Among measures the DPJ categorized as just starting to be addressed is a ban on political donations from businesses and other organizations. Policies that have yet to be taken up include abolishing the provisionally higher gasoline tax rate.

The policy review was probably aimed at displaying the amount of effort the party has expended toward realizing its campaign platform.

However, measures that were classified as "partially implemented" include plans for which funding has already been revoked, such as making expressways toll-free.


A self-congratulatory exercise

Also, some policies the DPJ classified as just starting to be addressed are measures that have no hope of ever materializing, such as reducing by 80 the number of proportional representation seats in lower house elections and introducing a minimum guaranteed pension of 70,000 yen a month. It is clear the party's achievement evaluation was only designed to encourage self-congratulation.

However, the most problematic aspect of the policy review is that it completely ignored the failure to achieve the very foundation of the 2009 election platform--that the DPJ, if in power, would find new revenue worth 16.8 trillion yen per year through a complete rewrite of the 207 trillion yen state budget.

The first question that should be asked is what was gained from laying out degrees of accomplishment in the election pledges that were, from the very beginning, faulty both in their content and in the methods proposed to find new revenue sources to fund them.

The policy review should have placed top priority on investigating the advisability of each individual proposal, as well as the processes through which the election pledges were forged.

Such policy goals as "abolishing in principle" public-interest corporations and local branches of state ministries and agencies--places where retired high-ranking bureaucrats often land senior positions--and a "drastic review of independent administrative institutions, including the advisability of abolishing them altogether" were formed out of populist motives, with no heed paid to their feasibility.


A loose way of thinking

From the beginning, there was no prospect of securing the huge amount of revenue needed to fund such proposals as the child allowances or abolishing the provisionally higher gasoline tax rate. Therefore, grave mistakes must have occurred in the discussions over these measures. It seems obvious that former DPJ head Ichiro Ozawa and other party executives indulged in a loose way of thinking whereby they assumed limitless revenue would be available if only the party could grab the reins of state.

Diplomatic affairs, meanwhile, were excluded from the achievement evaluation, for the stated reason that it is too difficult to rate diplomatic progress numerically.

It should never be forgotten, however, that it was Yukio Hatoyama--party leader when the DPJ campaigned under the 2009 manifesto--who said his government would find an alternative place for the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station "outside Okinawa Prefecture at the very least." This seriously harmed the Japan-U.S. relationship and threw our nation's diplomacy off course.

On the basis of the policy review, the DPJ leadership has said it will listen to the views of a wide range of party members, including those in its prefectural chapters, and reflect these ideas when composing a new set of election pledges.

In doing so, the DPJ should incorporate realistic content based on in-depth discussions regarding the "drastic reform of the tax system including an increase in the consumption tax rate," which was not part of their existing manifesto and was therefore not subject to the policy review.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 2, 2012)
(2012年11月2日01時43分  読売新聞)


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