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2013年1月13日 (日)

安倍・橋下会談 政権安定化への布石となるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 13, 2013)
Abe meets Hashimoto in quest for stable government
安倍・橋下会談 政権安定化への布石となるか(1月12日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems to be preparing carefully for the upcoming ordinary Diet session.

Abe visited Osaka on Friday to have talks with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who is acting president of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, secretary general of Ishin no Kai, for the first time since his Cabinet was inaugurated.

Referring to emergency economic measures, the prime minister asked them to help pass the fiscal 2012 supplementary budget in the Diet as soon as possible, while the two asked Abe to realize drastic structural reform including deregulation in medical fields.

This exchange of opinions is unusual because the prime minister has not yet held official talks with Banri Kaieda, president of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

Abe was exchanging opinions with Hashimoto even before he was elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party last autumn, showing his willingness to join hands with him on issues of national politics such as revision of the Constitution. The latest meeting is apparently the first step toward realizing their alliance.

Abe will face many important issues in the ordinary Diet session to be convened at the end of this month, including the fiscal 2012 supplementary budget and the fiscal 2013 budget.


Partnership with opposition

Under the Abe administration, the ruling parties hold more than two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives. However, they have less than half in the House of Councillors. The prime minister will have to seek a "partial alliance" or temporary partnerships on a policy-by-policy basis with opposition parties if he wants to pass important bills without being criticized for managing the Diet high-handedly.

Whether it can win support from Ishin no Kai, Your Party, New Renaissance Party and other smaller opposition parties will be particularly important for the government to succeed in appointing a new governor for the Bank of Japan, which requires the approval of both chambers, if it fails to gain the cooperation of the DPJ.

After talking with Abe, Hashimoto expressed again his party's position of deciding whether to support the government's policies based on their individual merit.
"We will not become an opposition party that disagrees with everything," Hashimoto told the press. "We'll discuss every policy carefully and agree on what we can agree on."


Ishin in eye of storm

In the past, opposition parties tended to refuse deliberation on bills or needlessly drag them out. We expect them to show different reactions this time. The government and the ruling parties could make concessions on quite a few issues with Ishin no Kai.

In the lower house, Ishin no Kai has 54 seats and is the second largest opposition party. But, the difference between it and the main opposition DPJ is only two seats. Movements by Ishin no Kai certainly will have some effect on the behavior of the ruling parties and the other opposition parties in the Diet.

Meanwhile, another apparent aim of Abe in his meeting with Hashimoto was to drive a wedge into talks started among opposition parties on forming a coalition for the upper house election scheduled in July.

The DPJ is seeking election cooperation with the other opposition parties in efforts to prevent the LDP and New Komeito from winning a majority of seats in the upper house election. However, Ishin no Kai and Your Party have expressed skepticism about it because their policies are quite different from those of the DPJ, which is supported by the Japan Teachers' Union and other labor unions.

Meanwhile, the DPJ has finally started intraparty discussions on rebuilding the party from its crushing defeat in the last lower house election. How will it respond to the prime minister's preemptive attack on the main opposition party? The DPJ's strategy for that remains to be seen.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 12, 2013)
(2013年1月12日01時32分  読売新聞)


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