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2013年10月19日 (土)

衆院代表質問 野党は建設的論戦を仕掛けよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun October 18, 2013
Opposition parties must engage in constructive debate at Diet
衆院代表質問 野党は建設的論戦を仕掛けよ(10月17日付・読売社説)

As the divided Diet was resolved by the House of Councillors election in July, we can see the current extraordinary Diet session as a place where the “strong one,” i.e. the Liberal Democratic Party, is challenged by “many weaklings,” the opposition parties. We hope the opposition parties hold constructive debate in the Diet to resolve the growing number of pending issues caused by political disarray.

At the House of Representatives, party representatives have started posing questions about the policy speech Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered at the beginning of the current Diet session.

Concerning Abe’s remark about water contaminated with radioactive substances at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Democratic Party of Japan President Banri Kaieda asked, “Do you think the situation is still under control?”

Abe replied, “The effect of the radioactive substances of the leaked contaminated water is contained within a 0.3-square-kilometer area in the harbor of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.” The situation was under control “on the whole,” he added.

It was rather disappointing that Kaieda only asked questions that would let Abe’s words be taken out of context from beginning to end.

The prime minister was right in deciding that the government would take a leading role in solving the problem of the contaminated water. The DPJ must feel responsibility for the nuclear crisis issue, as it invited the current situation by leaving the handling of the crisis in TEPCO’s hands when it was the ruling party.

During upcoming deliberations in the current session, opposition parties should not just criticize the government, but deepen discussions by making concrete proposals for the best ways to dispose of the contaminated water.

Kaieda called into question economic stimulus measures meant to ease the impact of raising the consumption tax rate from the current 5 percent to 8 percent next spring. On abolishing the special corporate tax for reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake one year ahead of schedule, as the government is now considering, Kaieda said the measure “runs counter to the spirit of solidarity between people” that supports reconstruction efforts.

Get business cooperation

In response, Abe said regaining a strong economy will also bring the light of hope to disaster-hit areas. The premise is “to tie recent economic growth to a rise in wages,” he stressed.

To get out of deflation, the key point is achieving a virtuous cycle in which increases in corporate earnings result in higher wages and more job opportunities. We urge the government to make aggressive efforts to get the cooperation of the business world.

Kaieda expressed his concern over the economic measures, saying, “They are crammed with unnecessary and non-urgent public works projects.” Of course, this must not be true of economic stimulus measures. The important thing is to make them effective measures, not handouts.

Measures to protect low income earners, to be implemented in tandem with the consumption tax hike, have been an important task since the time of the DPJ-led government. The government must clearly tell the people it will introduce a reduced tax rate system to keep the tax rate on daily necessities low.

Kaieda and Abe also discussed a bill on a special classified information protection law, which is to be discussed at the Diet together with a bill on a law to establish a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council. Abe said the government must urgently put in place legislation concerning the protection of national security information. At the same time, he said it is also important to respect the people’s right to know and freedom of the press.

It is a very important bill connected with Japan’s national security strategy. Ruling and opposition parties should discuss it sufficiently.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 17, 2013)
(2013年10月17日01時31分  読売新聞)


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