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2012年12月 2日 (日)

11党の討論会 政策実現性で競うべき党首力

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 2, 2012)
Party leaders should compete on strength of feasible policies
11党の討論会 政策実現性で競うべき党首力(12月1日付・読売社説)

Sitting in a row, 11 leaders of political parties made various assertions on issues. The scene reflected the disarray in the nation's politics.

Organized by the Japan National Press Club, a debate was held Friday among the party leaders. It could hardly be said that they always responded directly to each others' arguments, but at least each party's basic stance on key issues became clear.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stressed that his Democratic Party of Japan will make all-out efforts to abandon nuclear energy in the 2030s. As if competing over the speed at which they would achieve zero nuclear reliance, other party leaders presented different goals, with one calling for the immediate abandonment of nuclear power and another referring to an exit from nuclear power in 10 years or so.

However, we think such assertions by political parties, which deal with state affairs, are irresponsible as long as they are unable to show clear road maps for achieving zero reliance, by clearly anticipating such factors as economic variables and advances in alternative energy technology.

Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe raised the concern that seeking denuclearization could have a negative impact on the nation's economy and employment and discourage engineers from pursuing careers in the field of nuclear energy. Therefore, he said, "Zero reliance shouldn't be called for lightly." This view is reasonable.

Meanwhile, Shintaro Ishihara, the leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), played down calls for nuclear zero dependence as "a sort of desire" and expressed his intention to review his party's election pledge calling for nuclear power to be phased out by the 2030s. We think this praiseworthy.


Significance of sales tax hikes

As for increases in the consumption tax rate, Noda said, "Without securing a stable revenue source, we can't provide firm reassurances to people regarding receiving pension benefits and medical and nursing care."

Three major parties--the DPJ, the LDP and New Komeito--should explain to the people once again the significance of the integrated reform of social security and tax systems to win public understanding.

Nippon Mirai no To (Japan future party), which opposes consumption tax hikes, pledges to thoroughly eliminate wasteful spending before raising the sales tax. But it is obvious that such a policy would only lead the nation's already teetering finances to collapse.

Opposing tax increases without offering any specific alternatives to raise funds is nothing but posturing to please the public.


Parties at odds over TPP

As for the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and economic pact, Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of Your Party, which supports Japan's participation in the TPP talks, said, "The TPP multilateral framework, which excludes China, has strategic meaning to create a balance of power."

This was apparent criticism of the LDP's taking a cautious stance on TPP participation out of consideration for relations with China.

During the debate, Abe only said, "We'd like to handle [this issue] with improved negotiating power while scrutinizing whether we can overcome the hurdle of eliminating tariffs without exception." His remarks on the TPP issue left something to be desired.

The official campaign for the House of Representatives election kicks off Tuesday. The party heads should exercise their leadership by addressing voters' concerns seriously and presenting convincing policy measures rather than merely striving to raise the profile of their parties.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 1, 2012)
(2012年12月1日01時21分  読売新聞)


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