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2014年11月 7日 (金)

米中間選挙 オバマ氏は「ねじれ」克服図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Obama must survive widening gap between administration, Congress
米中間選挙 オバマ氏は「ねじれ」克服図れ

It is a painful defeat for U.S. President Barack Obama. From this point on, his ability to survive an ever more starkly divided government will be put to the test.

In Tuesday’s midterm elections, Republicans won a majority in both houses of Congress, increasing by a wide margin the number of seats that the party holds in the House of Representatives while recapturing control of the Senate for the first time in eight years.

Conventionally, the party that holds the presidency is likely to face an uphill battle in midterm elections. This time, there was a strong sense of discontent and disappointment with the Obama administration over widening economic disparity at home and his foreign policy, which has produced few results.

These developments have apparently led many voters to support Republicans, if only unenthusiastically, resulting in a large number of incumbent Democrats losing their seats.

With the Democrats losing control of the Senate, deliberations and the passage of bills will become increasingly difficult. Obama will face difficulties in managing the government.

Yet he must avoid letting U.S. influence decline further in the international arena, which would destabilize the global community.

Obama and Republicans are jointly obliged to make some mutual concessions to avoid political gridlock.

The elections also took on a tinge of a prelude to the 2016 presidential election. It was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who moved about campaigning for Democratic candidates, in place of the unpopular Obama. The process of choosing potential presidential contenders among Republicans is also about to go into full swing.

Maintaining active stance

For Obama, his efforts to overcome being a lame duck in his final two years in office will continue. He needs to rebuild a framework for implementing his policies by undertaking a drastic shakeup of his administration and tackling the mounting tasks at hand.

Regarding domestic policies, cutting the federal deficit and raising the minimum wage are urgently required.

On the diplomatic front, strong U.S. leadership is called for in wiping out the extremist organization known as the Islamic State — which has been expanding its clout in the Middle East — as well as bringing about a peaceful resolution to the regional conflict in eastern Ukraine and handling the Ebola crisis.

With China’s emergence as a global power, the direction of Washington’s Asia policy has drawn attention.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has made it clear that defense budget cuts will not affect U.S. defense policy, which aims to place a greater focus on Asia. We hope he acts on those words.

An early breakthrough in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which are proceeding with difficulty, is also sought. With full control of Congress now gained by the Republican Party, which espouses free trade, there is a possibility of an earlier-than-expected passage of legislation that will provide the president with so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

Within the party, however, there are also strong calls to fully liberalize Japan’s market for agricultural goods.

Now that the midterm elections are over, Obama should do his utmost to hold in check any extreme hard-liners’ calls toward Japan and find a realistic common ground.

The TPP entails the strategic aim of creating new rules on trade and investment under the leadership of Japan and the United States while containing China’s hegemony. We hope the United States will keep in mind this important cause.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 6, 2014)Speech


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