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2013年6月22日 (土)

自民参院選公約 政権党としては物足りない

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 22, 2013
LDP fails to present concretemeasures in campaign pledges
自民参院選公約 政権党としては物足りない(6月21日付・読売社説)

How will the Abe administration tackle the host of issues it faces at home and abroad six months after the Liberal Democratic Party returned to power?

The LDP has unveiled its campaign platform for the House of Councillors election in July, placing emphasis on realizing its Abenomics economic policies and pledging to seek tax incentives for capital investment and drastic cuts in the corporation tax. The party’s aggressive stance can be surmised from the campaign pledges, but the party has failed to present concrete measures.

As for the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the platform declared that the party will “protect what should be protected and assert what should be asserted in accordance with national interests.”

Japan is scheduled to take part in TPP negotiations in late July. Even though Japan has yet to enter full-scale negotiations, it is unsatisfactory that the ruling party has not presented concrete measures to prepare for the liberalization of trade, including steps to bolster competitiveness in the agricultural sector.

Warning from farmers

This is probably because opposition to participation in TPP negotiations runs deep in farming areas. In Hokkaido, a political wing of the Japanese Agriculture Group, a traditional support base for the LDP, has decided to allow its members to vote at their own discretion, a warning to the party leadership ahead of the upper house poll.

The party leadership has reflected the complaints of anti-TPP elements in a policy package dubbed “J-file 2013,” which was compiled as a supplement to the campaign pledge. In the package, the party clearly mentioned that the government “will not hesitate to pull out from the negotiations unless it is certain five agricultural items, including rice and wheat, will be treated as exceptions to free trade.”

The J-file presents medium- and long-term policy targets. Offering such exceptional treatment can be regarded as a desperate measure to secure farmers’ votes.

In regard to energy policies, the LDP pledged to make utmost efforts to obtain the understanding of local governments concerned as it seeks to restart nuclear reactors pending approval of their safety by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

It is reasonable for the party to clearly mention a policy to restart nuclear reactors, which is indispensable for the country to achieve economic growth. But the party’s platform is far too vague in defining nuclear power generation and the nuclear fuel cycle in its medium- and long-term energy strategy.

Concerning the Constitution, the party made a case for the need to revise the supreme law to meet the needs of the time and respond to new challenges. This is natural.

Constitutional standstill

Regarding Article 96, which stipulates procedures for constitutional amendments, the party stressed that parliamentary requirements for initiating revision should be relaxed, saying it is necessary to “make it easier for the people, with whom sovereign power resides, to have the opportunity to take part in constitutional judgments through national referendums.” The party must explain its stance more thoroughly to win over the people.

The effort to revise Article 96 ahead of other provisions has been postponed due to a wary stance shown by the LDP’s coalition partner, New Komeito.

The LDP had no alternative but to give up on its plan to work out common campaign pledges with Komeito this time because of differences in their constitutional revision standpoints. After the election, Komeito will possibly hold the key to deciding how the constitutional revision issue will pan out. It is vital for the two parties to continue to discuss the matter tenaciously.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2013)
(2013年6月21日01時20分  読売新聞)


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