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2013年2月 1日 (金)

代表質問 経済再生へ建設的論戦深めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 1, 2013)
Parties should hold constructive debate to revive economy
代表質問 経済再生へ建設的論戦深めよ(1月31日付・読売社説)

We urge the ruling and opposition parties to engage in constructive debate on how to rejuvenate the economy, the most urgent task facing Japan.

On Wednesday, party leaders began questioning Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy speech at the Diet. It was the first clash between Abe and Banri Kaieda, the new president of the Democratic Party of Japan, as party leaders in that venue.

Kaieda expressed concern over the 2 percent inflation target set jointly by the government and the Bank of Japan, saying the target could result in a drop in real wages and a rise in long-term interest rates. "We can't ignore the side effects [of the inflation target] on people's daily lives," Kaieda said.

Kaieda also attacked Abe's stimulus measures. "Old-fashioned economic measures that depend on public works projects are less effective," he said.

Regarding the possible side effects of his monetary easing policy, Abe rebutted Kaieda, saying, "I'll deal with them through flexible macroeconomic measures."

Abe defended his stimulus policy by saying that his administration will pay close attention to fiscal discipline. "We'll achieve the two goals of restoring fiscal health and rejuvenating the economy simultaneously," Abe said.


Beating deflation top priority

Kaieda has a point. However, it is a fact that the yen's value and stock prices are continuing to improve as the market reacts favorably to Abe's announcement of his "three arrows" approach to the economy--combined policy initiatives of bold monetary easing, flexible fiscal spending and a growth strategy that induces public investment.

Conquering deflation is a long-standing issue for the nation. Measures with a stronger punch than conventional steps are needed to achieve that goal. It is important for the government and the central bank to cooperate more closely to bolster the economy.

Regarding the government's energy policy, Kaieda asked Abe whether his administration will adopt the previous DPJ-led administration's goal of achieving "zero nuclear power by 2030." Abe clarified that his administration will review it.

We believe it is inevitable for the government to review the zero nuclear policy, as there are still no feasible ideas how to secure the alternative power sources necessary for a stable power supply.

The government should draw up a new energy policy aimed at utilizing safe nuclear power plants after sufficient discussion with local governments that host nuclear power plants and countries concerned.


DPJ shouldn't stick to old tactics

Kaieda also referred to his party's role as an opposition party. While stressing that the DPJ will fulfill the role of checking the government run by the LDP and New Komeito, Kaieda also said, "As an opposition party that has experience holding the reins of government, we'll promote politics that can move important issues forward."

We believe Kaieda's philosophy is appropriate. The DPJ has the most seats in the House of Councillors. Under the divided Diet--in which the DPJ and other opposition parties have a majority in the upper house--the DPJ should never forget it shares an important role of moving politics forward.

When the DPJ previously sat on the opposition bench, the party gave priority to blocking the ruling parties through tactics such as opposing government personnel appointments that are subject to Diet approval. If the party uses such tactics again, it will be natural for the party to be labeled an opposition party whose identity is to oppose everything.
The public would be unlikely to support such a party, and it would be a step back for the party's reform.

Takeo Hiranuma, head of the Diet members' caucus of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), said his party would decide whether to oppose the LDP-led government on an issue-by-issue basis. Hiranuma even responded favorably to Abe's economic policy, saying, "I feel affinity with the prime minister's stance [on the economy]."

The cooperation of opposition parties is essential for the early passage of the fiscal 2013 budget and related bills.

Abe said he would like to "gather the wisdom of all ruling and opposition parties" to deal with the nation's problems.
To do so, he himself must exercise flexibility by sincerely listening to the assertions of the opposition parties and reflecting them in government measures if necessary.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 31, 2013)
(2013年1月31日01時39分  読売新聞)


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