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2013年9月 6日 (金)

民主参院選総括 解党的出直しもいばらの道だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 6, 2013
DPJ must tread thorny path to get party back on its feet
民主参院選総括 解党的出直しもいばらの道だ(9月5日付・読売社説)

Can the Democratic Party of Japan start over from scratch based on such a lax reflection on its defeat in the latest national election? It will face a thorny path in putting the party back on its feet.

The DPJ recently held a general meeting of the party’s Diet members to reflect on its crushing defeat in the House of Councillors election. Banri Kaieda, the party president, made clear his determination to take the lead in revitalizing the party. The new party leadership, including Secretary General Akihiro Ohata, was also approved at the meeting.

Yet it is highly doubtful that the party can regain its strength under the guidance of Kaieda, who has not taken responsibility for the party’s defeat in the July election and lacks leadership.

In the document in which the party leadership summed up the result of the upper house election, the DPJ said it had become “a party rejected” by the people, and stressed the need “to start over from scratch.”

The public’s distrust and its desire to punish the party for its poor management of the administration still run deep, even after the DPJ fell from power late last year. The self-assessment of being a rejected party is late but accurate.

The summary also said the party’s assertions on such issues as social security, the consumption tax, nuclear power generation and the Constitution must have been “hard [for voters] to understand.” It stated that “both the party leader and the secretary general lacked the ability to convey their messages” to respond to criticism of the party.

This line of logic, however, appears to be reasoning used to evade the party’s responsibility by saying there was nothing wrong with its policies themselves but that the party failed to make voters understand the policies.

Voters rejected policy content

But what the voters reject is not the fact that the policies are hard to understand, or the leaders’ lack of ability to transmit their ideas, but the content of the policies and the party’s lack of unity.

For instance, the creation of a system to guarantee minimum pension benefits, as the party advocates, requires sizable funding and is not feasible. While touting the idea of reducing the number of operating nuclear power plants to zero by the 2030s, the party has failed to present any steps to secure alternative sources of energy, and thus lacks the solution to a possible power shortage.

The party will reportedly proceed by having all its Diet members thoroughly discuss such issues as social security and economic policies. Yet unless the party first openly admits its policy errors and hammers out a new course of action, it will be difficult to regain the voters’ trust.

As the first step, the party must reverse its departure from talks with the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on implementing the integrated reform of the social security and tax systems that was agreed upon under the DPJ-led administration.

It has a duty as a responsible political party to compile a realistic social security reform plan and return to the three-party talks.

Regarding such issues as the Constitution and national security policy, the DPJ has put off any substantial discussion and reached only ambiguous conclusions on the issues, due chiefly to diverse opinions among party members. Unless the DPJ overcomes intraparty conflict and uni-fies its opinions on these issues, it will not be able to foster a sense of togetherness within the party.

As of the end of May, there were just over 210,000 DPJ party members and supporters, marking a decline of more than 30 percent from a year earlier. The decline in the party’s strength shows no signs of having reached bottom.

Unless the DPJ acknowledges the current situation seriously, reworks its policies and changes its entire character, it will cease to be one of the two major parties and a rival to the ruling LDP.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 5, 2013)
(2013年9月5日01時32分  読売新聞)


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