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2014年2月12日 (水)

民主党大会 破綻した政策にまだ拘るのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 11, 2014
Will DPJ continue to follow failed policies and oppose needed changes?
民主党大会 破綻した政策にまだ拘るのか(2月11日付・読売社説)

Even if the Democratic Party of Japan works out proposals to counter the policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, or promises to review its key policies, it will be difficult for the party to rejuvenate itself if it fails to reach proper conclusions in such efforts or fails to establish internal unity.

The DPJ held its party convention in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. At the convention, party leader Banri Kaieda spelled out the DPJ’s confrontational stance vis a vis the Abe administration, saying: “All our members will work together to pursue politics that will defend the people’s lives, jobs and livelihoods. Our party must play a pivotal role in the opposition force.”

In its action policy for fiscal 2014, the party emphasizes that “the party will properly keep watch, through Diet deliberations, on the Abe Cabinet, which may ‘run roughshod’ by dint of its strength of numbers.”

Yet the environment the DPJ is confronting, both within and outside the party, remains severe.

Discontent runs deep among conservatives within the party over the policy line under Kaieda. They do not like the idea of the party leadership, which they consider to have taken on a strong tint of liberalism, merely reflexively opposing the ruling party for the sake of opposition.

Because of this, a number of party members, chiefly among those who failed to win seats in the latest House of Councillors election, left the party in the latter half of last year. Kaieda’s lack of leadership ability is a problem the party must contend with.

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party, as “responsible opposition parties,” have shown their positive stance toward policy discussions with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The joint struggle by opposition parties in the Diet has not made progress. Nor is there any prospect for what the DPJ envisages as “a reorganization of opposition parties centering on the DPJ.”

Professing its principle of “making counterproposals” to the administration, the DPJ had claimed that it would compile its own economic policies to counter those championed by the Abe administration.

Policy review long overdue

Yet even at the latest party convention, the party did not present any concrete plans for solving problems, the most important of which is how to help the nation escape from deflation and grow the economy.

DPJ Policy Research Committee Chairman Mitsuru Sakurai has made clear the party’s stance of reviewing its seven key policies, which it advocated in its manifesto for the 2009 House of Representatives election. Two of these policies were “saving ¥16.8 trillion a year in fiscal resources by stamping out wasteful spending,” and “establishing a guaranteed minimum pension payment system.”

It is obviously unrealistic for a government to carry out such schemes as the establishment of a minimum pension payment system, which would require a large-scale tax increase. The party should have reviewed these key policies before the 2012 lower house election.

The pace of the party’s review, which it has said would be concluded by the unified local elections scheduled for spring next year and which the party considers a “vanguard for its counteroffensive,” is too slow.

Some in the party adhere to the manifesto and are cautious about the policy review, saying there is nothing wrong with the party’s course of action. There has been no improvement in the party’s habitual pattern of struggling to reach a consensus and merely heatedly exchanging views.

Regarding the change in the interpretation of the Constitution that would enable the exercise of the nation’s right to collective self-defense, which Abe aims to realize, the DPJ earlier attempted to compile a view opposing such a change. But because the party’s conservative members and others have balked at this move, the party has been unable to establish a consensus on the issue.

This is the price the party is paying for having avoided for so long an intraparty discussion on national security policy. The party also needs to change its stance of putting off thorny tasks.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 11, 2014)
(2014年2月11日01時35分  読売新聞)


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