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2013年7月 5日 (金)

9党首討論会 アベノミクスに対案はあるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 5, 2013
Can opposition present any clear alternatives to Abenomics?
9党首討論会 アベノミクスに対案はあるか(7月4日付・読売社説)

Political parties’ differing views were recently brought to light in an open debate among the ruling and opposition parties over Abenomics, the set of economic policies adopted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration. Abenomics has become the main point of contention in the upcoming House of Councillors election.

During the debate among leaders of nine political parties, held prior to the official start of the election campaign period at the Japan National Press Club on Wednesday, Abe stressed the positive effects of his economic policies. As the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, he said, “Our policies have boosted the nation’s economic fundamentals while improving the employment situation.”

Natsuo Yamaguchi, president of New Komeito, the LDP’s ruling coalition partner, said that by securing a majority in the upper house, “We would strive to end the divided Diet and gain enough power to carry out our growth strategy.”

It is true that the excessive appreciation of the yen has been corrected to a certain extent and stock prices have risen. The “three arrows” of Abenomics--bold monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and a growth strategy--have so far proved largely on target.

Need to win over the public

Still, the real measure of the growth strategy, the third arrow, has only just begun to be tested. Undoubtedly the high approval ratings the Abe administration has recorded until now have been achieved due to the public’s high expectations for the Abe government.

In addition to promising the people his administration will steadily implement Abenomics, the prime minister must continue making efforts to win the public’s understanding of his economic policies.

Toru Hashimoto, coleader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), and Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe indicated their support of the path charted by Abenomics, while calling on the administration to implement thorough deregulatory initiatives.

Both Hashimoto and Watanabe oppose the envisaged rise in the consumption tax rate next spring. They believe if a price increase induced by monetary easing occurs in conjunction with the tax hike, economic recovery will be hindered.

Speaking about the consumption tax increase, Abe said, “If the tax hike negatively affects the overall economy, leading to a decline in cumulative tax revenues, it will become meaningless.” His comments indicated the administration will prudently assess the economic situation before implementing the hike.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the five other parties present at the meeting reiterated their strong skepticism regarding the outcome of Abenomics. Banri Kaieda, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, harshly criticized the policies, saying Abenomics “may destroy people’s lives.”

DPJ’s proposal unconvincing

How, then, would the opposition DPJ help spur economic growth? When Abe raised this question, the DPJ leader said, “Driving an increase in workers’ take-home pay would lead to a boost in personal consumption, which would eventually bring about sustainable economic growth.” He also referred to child-rearing allowances and tuition-free education at public high schools, both programs the DPJ advocated when in power.

Nevertheless, Kaieda’s assertions lack solid backing and are less convincing than the LDP’s. They can hardly be considered counterproposals to Abenomics. Is the DPJ leader still adhering to the party’s handout policies?

The policy differences between the LDP and Komeito are no small matter either.

While Abe supports reviewing the government’s interpretation of the Constitution on the right to collective self-defense, Yamaguchi has said his party upholds the current interpretation. Yamaguchi has further made it clear that changing the government’s interpretation would require a convincing call for action, and such a call would need to be backed by a consensus between the two parties.

The LDP and Komeito also differ in their views on constitutional amendments and policies concerning nuclear power plants. Both parties need to have thorough discussions with each other within the administration over key policy issues and coordinate their stances. It is worrisome that they have still not made sufficient efforts to this end in preparation for the upper house election.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,  July 4, 2013)
(2013年7月4日01時36分  読売新聞)


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