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2014年9月24日 (水)

社説:維新の党結成 なぜ再編か大義を示せ

September 23, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: 'Third force' opposition parties need big ideas more than mergers
社説:維新の党結成 なぜ再編か大義を示せ

The Japan Restoration Party (JRP) and fellow opposition party Yui no To have officially merged to become the Japan Innovation Party (Ishin no to), as well as the second-largest opposition bloc with 53 Diet seats.
With internal strife rocking Your Party, the so-called "third political force" -- parties that are neither in government with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito nor joined to the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) -- is shifting quickly.

No matter the new form it takes, however, as long as this revamped opposition force fails to differentiate itself clearly from the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as long as its policy goals remain fuzzy, it is unlikely to inspire impassioned support from the Japanese electorate.

Before these "third force" parties get too excited about their long-talked about "opposition realignment," they ought to create a solid policy foundation.

The new Japan Innovation Party (JIP) is led jointly by JRP leader and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, and Yui no To leader Kenji Eda.

Hashimoto -- who once shared JRP leadership duties with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara -- has said the formation of the new party is "just one phase in the (opposition) realignment process," and strongly expressed his desire to be in the forefront of a broad restructuring of the Japanese political world.

The two-headed leadership model, however -- especially with Eda looking very much like he's being slotted into Ishihara's place -- speaks volumes about how hard opposition realignment will really be going forward.

The breakup of both Your Party and the former JRP occurred because of serious internal divisions, and there are deep divides within the new JIP as well.

First and foremost, the JIP must illustrate how its goals differ significantly from those of the Abe administration.  肝心の安倍政権との距離がまず、判然としない。

Hashimoto has evinced a certain respect for the current government, saying the Abe administration has "tackled some things that politics in Japan has never dealt with before."

Eda, meanwhile, appears to place enormous importance on highlighting differences with the LDP-led administration. これに対し江田氏は政権と違いを出すことに重点を置いているようだ。

If the JIP cooperates with the Abe government even temporarily, how will it make itself into a power great enough to take over government itself?

The party won't be able to do that, to make itself a genuine alternative, simply by supporting or opposing individual government policies.

Furthermore, there is still a yawning policy gap within the new JIP.

For example, the former JRP broadly supports the reinterpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, while the former Yui no To is more cautious.

The JIP has released a 65-point policy outline, but its membership apparently still has yet to agree on the party's position on serious national issues including the consumption tax hike and the restart of Japan's nuclear reactors.

It looks a lot like the former JRP and Yui no To put a much higher priority on their merger than actual policy.

Meanwhile, the ongoing internal strife within fellow "third force" Your Party is just plain ugly.

Former Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe has openly criticized current leader Keiichiro Asao, saying Asao "should resign if he seeks opposition realignment," thereby sparking yet more infighting and chaos.

It's quite a surprise, we must say, that Watanabe -- a man whose own political funding scandal caused so much damage to his party -- now has the gumption to call for the resignation of his successor.

It's not inconceivable that Watanabe's sudden assault on Asao was in fact designed to prevent the Your Party leader from joining hands with Hashimoto and Eda, with whom Watanabe is in conflict.

All in all, the prospects for opposition consolidation remain cloudy indeed.

The DPJ has rebuilt its executive ranks, looking to solidify the party's political posture and differentiate itself from the fractious "third force" opposition realignment movement.

There are, however, questions on how much political fight the DPJ can put up on major issues.

The "third force" parties -- which did so well in the 2012 House of Representatives election -- slammed headfirst into the massive bulk of the ruling coalition, essentially disintegrating as they tried to make themselves seen and heard in the shadow of the Abe administration.

So why, the voters must be asking, are these "third force" parties merging instead of taking a hard look at their post-election crash-and-burn and coming up with big ideas the country could get behind?

At the very least, we would like to see them fulfill their responsibilities as opposition parties and stand up to the government in the Diet.

毎日新聞 2014年09月23日 02時30分


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