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2012年11月17日 (土)

きょう衆院解散 民自公協調が「条件」を整えた

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2012)
DPJ-LDP-Komeito cooperation must survive general election
きょう衆院解散 民自公協調が「条件」を整えた(11月16日付・読売社説)

As the three "preconditions" set by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for dissolving the House of Representatives have largely been met, the lower chamber is expected to be dissolved Friday so a general election can be held.

One of the focal points, reforming the lower house's electoral system, moved forward as a bill that would eliminate five single-seat constituencies to rectify vote-value disparities between the most and least represented electoral districts passed the lower house with support from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and opposition parties including the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.

The legislation to rectify vote disparities is expected to be enacted into law Friday by the House of Councillors.

Further, an accord has been reached on a proposal Noda made to the LDP and Komeito to cut the number of lower house seats elected through proportional representation. The agreement would see the three parties join hands to pass a bill in an ordinary Diet session early next year.

The ruling and opposition parties are also in agreement on another bill expected to pass on Friday that would slash Diet members' annual salaries by 20 percent. The legislation is looked upon as a gesture by lawmakers that they can "set an example by enduring suffering" until the number of legislators has been reduced.


Poll in 'state of unconstitutionality'

These agreements between the ruling and opposition camps have realized what Noda referred to as the "minimum acceptable accord" in one-on-one debates in the Diet with opposition party leaders Wednesday.

It will likely take several months to rezone the relevant single-seat constituencies to eliminate the five seats and to inform the public about the electoral change. The lower house election expected for next month will therefore be carried out in what the Supreme Court called in a ruling last March a "state of unconstitutionality."

Indications are that lawsuits will be filed sometime after the general election seeking to nullify its results, and the courts will most likely hand down exacting decisions on the election's outcome.

It also appears likely that yet another condition for dissolving the lower house--passing a bill to allow the issuance of deficit-covering bonds--will soon become law.

The legislation in question would enable the government to issue the bonds until fiscal 2015, on the condition that it gives due attention to the need for fiscal discipline.

The three major parties have also agreed to establish by the end of the month a national council to outline social security system reform. There are of course a large number of issues that must be solved, such as how to keep the pension system sustainable.

Although it was not a condition for dissolving the lower house, a bill that would revise the National Pension Law to allow pension benefits to be lowered to a level that reflects recent price declines appears assured of enactment through cooperation between the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito.


Partnership vital in divided Diet

It is highly significant that the problem of excess pension payments--an issue that has lingered since the time when the LDP and Komeito were in power--has finally been rectified.

This signifies that important legislation can be passed even in a divided Diet, where the ruling bloc lacks a majority in the upper house, if the ruling and opposition camps make a concerted effort to find common ground.

Nevertheless, several key bills have been scrapped in the current Diet session, including one that would create a numbered citizen identification system, known as the My Number bill, which is essential for effectively carrying out comprehensive social security and tax reform. Also, joining of the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abduction, which lays out how child custody should be dealt with when international marriages break up, will be delayed. These bills should be enacted without fail in the next ordinary Diet sitting.

As the configuration of parliamentary groups in the upper house will remain basically the same after the coming lower house election, maintaining the framework of cooperation between the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito will still be needed to continue moving national politics forward.

Lower house elections, where the survival of each party is at stake, are prone to devolving into intense mudslinging contests. However, the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito must keep in mind the danger of smear campaigns during the next lower house contest.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 16, 2012)
(2012年11月16日01時38分  読売新聞)


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