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2013年4月 1日 (月)

維新党大会 自民の対抗勢力になり得るか

[The Yomiuri Shimbun] April 1, 2013
Can Ishin no Kai boost its strength to eventually take on LDP?
維新党大会 自民の対抗勢力になり得るか(3月31日付・読売社説)

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) has clear aspirations to revise the Constitution.

Is there any prospect of Ishin no Kai becoming a conservative party large enough to be a formidable rival to the Liberal Democratic Party?

On Saturday, Ishin no Kai held the first convention in Osaka since its inauguration last September, adopting a party platform and endorsing an action policy for 2013.

The platform says the existing Constitution is an "occupation constitution forced on [Japan by the United States] to make the Japanese people believe in the unrealistic idea of absolute pacifism, thereby thrusting the nation into isolation and making it the object of disdain [in the eyes of the international community]."

It pledged to drastically revise the Constitution "to help resuscitate the country."

At the convention, party coleader Toru Hashimoto, who also serves as mayor of Osaka, emphasized the significance of revising the Constitution by saying, "Japan must rise to the important challenge of remolding the Constitution with its own hands."

Constitutional revision

Hashimoto said Ishin no Kai would seek as many seats as possible in the House of Councillors election this summer to ensure that the party, the LDP and minor opposition Your Party have a combined two-thirds majority, so they would be able to initiate constitutional amendments.

Depending on the outcome of the upper house election, a political landscape may emerge allowing the Constitution to be revised for the first time since its promulgation.

Hashimoto's speech can be interpreted as indicating his party would work with the LDP under these circumstances.

One of the major issues in the upper house race will be whether to revise the Constitution.

Apparently based on some soul-searching after its failure to increase its House of Representatives seats as initially expected in the general election in December, Ishin no Kai has taken steps to cooperate in the upper house election with Your Party, which also wants to revise the supreme law. How many seats the two parties can win in the upper chamber will hinge on the effectiveness of their cooperation in the specifics of their electoral campaigns.

In his speech, Hashimoto said his party would support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture and negotiations for Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade talks.

On the other hand, Hashimoto stressed his goal of preventing the LDP and New Komeito from taking a majority of seats in the upper house. He argued that Ishin no Kai was the only party that could rise to the political challenges of eliminating vested interests and reorganizing the nation's government machinery.

With some critics saying Ishin no Kai is no better than "an LDP auxiliary force," what can it do to prove it is different from the LDP as a party dedicated to reform?
According to a survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun, the support rate for Ishin no Kai, which stood at the same level as the Democratic Party of Japan at 8 percent immediately after the inauguration of the Abe Cabinet, has now plunged to as low as 2 percent.

Difference in views

Among its problems, Ishin no Kai has to grapple with the disparate views between Hashimoto and his party's Diet members in Tokyo on such issues as a desirable future electoral system and how the party should deal with Diet affairs in connection with the Bank of Japan's executive appointments requiring the consent of the legislature.

Coordination between the party headquarters in Osaka and the Tokyo-based group of Ishin no Kai legislators has begun through such means as teleconferences. To become a party with a sense of unity, it is imperative for Ishin no Kai to end the schism between the two.

The other coleader of the party, former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, meanwhile, was absent from the convention because of a "slight stroke." He took part in the gathering via an online live broadcast from Tokyo. Hashimoto did not respond to Ishihara's suggestion that he run in the upcoming upper house election.

Whether Hashimoto will decide to run in the election seems to depend on whether the party can ramp up its strength.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 31, 2013)
(2013年3月31日01時43分  読売新聞)


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