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2012年12月19日 (水)

安倍政権へ始動 次の参院選まで息が抜けない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 19, 2012)
No relief in sight for LDP until upper house election
安倍政権へ始動 次の参院選まで息が抜けない(12月18日付・読売社説)

A new administration must avoid political indecisiveness and move to address the policy challenges ahead.

Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe should take the people's hopes to heart and ensure stable management of his administration.

Abe has indicated he plans to keep LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba in the same post in the upcoming reshuffle of party executives so he can play a leading role in the House of Councillors election next summer.

The LDP and New Komeito combined to win 325 seats in Sunday's House of Representatives election, and Abe is set to be named prime minister at a special Diet session on Dec. 26. Unless the problem of the divided Diet is resolved, however, politics will remain unstable.

With the upper house election considered "the final match," keeping Ishiba in his current post would be the first step toward an election victory, which the party regards as most important.

As Abe acknowledged, the LDP's landslide victory Sunday is attributable to passive support by voters who only regard the party as "better than the Democratic Party of Japan." The rate of votes won by the LDP in the proportional representation segment was 27.6 percent, almost the same as the 26.7 percent in the previous lower house election, in which the party suffered a crushing defeat.


Must adopt modest approach

If the party boasts of the ruling bloc's two-thirds majority in the lower house, which allows it to pass bills that have been voted down by the upper house through a second vote, and if it uses heavy-handed tactics in the Diet and commits a series of blunders, it could receive a harsh public judgment in the upper house election.

Abe says he plans "a cabinet to break through the crisis" and revive the government's currently dormant Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy as the control tower of economic policy. He also expressed his intention to compile a large-scale supplementary budget for this fiscal year.

The top priority for the time being is to end deflation as soon as possible. An economic recovery in the first half in 2013 is essential as a precondition for increasing the consumption tax to 8 percent in April 2014.

It is a matter of course for the government to boost the economy by beefing up economic policy measures. But it should avoid returning to lavish spending on public works projects and agriculture.

On foreign policy, Abe said he planned to visit the United States as early as late January, and would work to put Japan-U.S. relations on a firm footing once again. These ties were disrupted under the DPJ-led administration.


Bolster Japan-U.S. alliance

Strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance is a pressing task, given the severe security situation in Northeast Asia. Changing prime ministers for the seventh consecutive year since 2006 has not helped in carrying out the nation's diplomacy. Japan's declining presence in the international community must be arrested.

Abe is to hold a meeting with New Komeito Chief Representative Natsuo Yamaguchi on Tuesday to confirm that the two parties will form a coalition government. In policy talks between the two parties, such issues as the right to collective self-defense, a supplementary budget and nuclear energy policy should be taken up.

In the lower house election campaign, the LDP called for a change in the government interpretation of the Constitution to enable the nation to exercise the right to collective self-defense. However, Komeito maintains a cautious stance.

It is obvious that exercising this right is desirable from the standpoint of strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance. The LDP must continue to press Komeito to support it on this point.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 18, 2012)
(2012年12月18日01時22分  読売新聞)


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