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2013年5月16日 (木)

予算きょう成立 まだ懸案の処理が残っている

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 16, 2013
Diet set to pass FY13 budget, but many important bills still pending
予算きょう成立 まだ懸案の処理が残っている(5月15日付・読売社説)

The Diet is set to pass the fiscal 2013 budget Wednesday. The general account budget totaling 92.6 trillion yen is expected to be rejected by the House of Councillors due to objections from opposition parties, but a constitutional provision stipulating the supremacy of the House of Representatives will be applied to pass the budget.

Together, the supplementary budget for fiscal 2012 that was passed in February and the fiscal 2013 budget are called a collective "15-month budget." The government should steadily implement this budget to end deflation and revitalize the nation's economy, both of which are goals of Abenomics, the economic policies of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

After passing the fiscal 2013 budget, the government must develop a growth strategy, the "third arrow" of Abenomics to be compiled in June. It must also draw up a basic policy for economic and fiscal reform.

How should the issues of sustainable growth and restoration of fiscal health in the mid- and long term be balanced? This may become a point of contention in the upcoming upper house election.

Address vote-value disparities

Following passage of the fiscal 2013 budget, the focus of attention at the close of the current Diet session will shift to other pressing bills.

Above all, to rectify vote-value disparities, lawmakers must quickly deliberate a bill on rezoning single-seat constituencies in the lower house to realize a "plus-zero, minus-five" plan, which proposes the number of seats be cut by five.

It is only natural for the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito to say passing the bill ahead of further reforms is the minimum responsibility of the legislature. The parties are poised to push the bill through even if a second vote is forced in the lower house.

On the other hand, opposition forces such as the Democratic Party of Japan insist correction of vote-value disparities and a substantial reduction in the number of lower house seats should be realized simultaneously. Although three weeks have passed since the bill was submitted to the upper house, there still remains no prospect for initiating deliberations on it.

Because parties' opinions widely differ over sweeping reform of the electoral system, it will be difficult to reach a conclusion on the matter during the current Diet session.

The DPJ and other opposition parties' refusal to accomplish more readily attainable tasks first and insistence on adhering to reaching principles is extremely irresponsible.

Another urgent task is the enactment of a bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law to grant adults under guardianship the right to vote. Passage of the bill is necessary before the upper house election this summer.

Additionally, the Diet is tasked with passing the so-called My Number bill to introduce a system that would assign a unique identification number to residents nationwide, which is aimed at improving social security services and ensuring efficient tax collection. Another bill related to the Hague Convention also must be enacted.

Social security reform urgent

Meanwhile, talks on reforming the social security system between the LDP and Komeito and the DPJ have become stagnant.

The LDP and Komeito are seeking to improve the pension system by altering the current system. In contrast, the DPJ is demanding drastic reforms such as the introduction of a guaranteed minimum pension. The party is clearly trying to make pension system reform a major subject of debate in the upper house election.

If politicians cannot come to a decision, it will be difficult for legislative measures to be taken by Aug. 21, as required under the law to promote social security system reform. Discussions within the government's National Council on Social Security System Reform, which was established based on an agreement between the LDP and Komeito and the DPJ last year, will also remain stalled.

The three parties should clarify once more how they will advance reform.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 15, 2013)
(2013年5月15日01時35分  読売新聞)


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