自民総裁選告示 日本の針路に責任ある論戦を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 17, 2012)
LDP presidential candidates should thoroughly debate issues
自民総裁選告示 日本の針路に責任ある論戦を(9月16日付・読売社説)


If the Liberal Democratic Party’s goal is to regain power, the candidates seeking their party’s leadership must reveal concrete measures on how to tackle the vital tasks facing the nation.

The LDP presidential race kicked off Friday, with five members running for the leadership: former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Shigeru Ishiba; former Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura; LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara; and Yoshimasa Hayashi, acting chairman of the Policy Research Council. Verbal clashes among the five are heating up ahead of the voting on Sept. 26.

If the LDP wins the next House of Representatives election, the new party president will likely become the prime minister. We are looking forward to scrutinizing the qualities of the candidates as well as their policies through the election race.


The public is watching the campaign to confirm whether the LDP is capable of holding the reins of government. To regain the public’s trust of the party, all candidates must clarify how they would deal with issues that have split public opinion.


Show details on collective defense

All five candidates have pledged to amend the Constitution. Furthermore, they have stated in their election pledges that Japan should be allowed to exercise its right to collective self-defense. The five plan to establish a basic law on national security that will enable the nation to exercise this right. This is essential in order to restore the Japan-U.S. alliance after it was eroded during the administrations of Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan.

We commend them on this issue.

However, when the LDP formed a coalition government with New Komeito, the party failed to get the ball rolling on allowing the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense. The candidates must show specific steps to achieve this goal.

The present government recently set out a target of “zero nuclear power plants operating” in the 2030s. Machimura criticized this policy, saying it is “just an expression of hope without specific means to achieve it.” The other four candidates have similar opinions on this issue.

We can never approve the government’s slipshod decision of announcing its “zero nuclear power” policy without sorting out ways to secure viable alternatives to nuclear power.

What do the presidential candidates of the LDP–which had promoted nuclear power for so long during its administrations–think about the nation’s future energy policy? If they say only that it is too early to draw a conclusion, they are evading the issue.

On the issue of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework, all candidates have stated they oppose joining TPP negotiations if the premise is to eliminate tariffs without any “sanctuaries.” If so, the candidates should explain their conditions for joining the TPP and how they would go about joining it.

Hasn’t the LDP emphasized expanding free trade in its growth strategy? The party should not turn its back to the TPP, which is essential to take advantage of economic growth in neighboring Asian nations.

We believe the candidates are considering the reactions of agricultural organizations such as agricultural cooperatives. However, under the existing circumstances, Japan’s agriculture will only continue declining. The candidates must discuss measures to revive domestic agriculture so it can cope with further trade liberalization.


Diplomacy toward Beijing

On the diplomatic front, we want to hear what the aspirants for the top LDP post think about issues affecting Japan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and how they would rebuild this country’s diplomatic ties with China, South Korea and Russia.

The candidates have all agreed on the need to beef up Japan’s control of the Senkaku Islands. The tricky part is what measures they would take to achieve this.

Ishihara said, “It’s natural for this country to defend its sovereignty, but now is the time for us to keep a cool head.”

Anti-Japanese demonstrations have become increasingly boisterous in China. To urge the Chinese government to calm the situation, the government and the ruling and opposition camps should levelheadedly work as one.

Another matter of high significance is which party or parties the LDP should link up with after the next lower house election.

Whatever the outcome of the election, the LDP will still lack a majority in the House of Councillors, even when counting the seats held by New Komeito. This situation will continue until at least next summer’s upper house election.

The five candidates are all wary of the idea of forming a grand coalition with the Democratic Party of Japan. Instead, they favor cooperation with the DPJ on a policy-by-policy basis.

Abe, for his part, has hinted at a possible partnership with Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), which is led by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

Some of Ishin no Kai’s policies neatly fit those of the LDP, such as seeking revisions to the Constitution. However, many policy commitments of the party starkly contrast with those of the LDP, including the former’s demand that the number of lower house seats be halved.

The LDP will need to consider these details carefully before forming any full-blooded political alliance.

Regarding comprehensive reform of social security and tax systems jointly undertaken by the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito, all the LDP candidates have committed to adhering with the three-party accord. This is a natural course of action.


New Diet rules required

The DPJ-LDP-Komeito tripartite agreement must be kept intact. The three parties should jointly address such key tasks as working out how to lower the financial burdens low-income earners will face when the consumption tax rate is increased, and enhance efficiency in budget appropriations for ballooning social security expenditures.

Abe said the proposed consumption tax hike “could put a damper on the economy if it’s implemented at the wrong time,” indicating the possibility he would postpone the first stage of the tax raise in April 2014.

Although due consideration should be paid to national economic conditions before the tax increase, the importance of reconstructing the deficit-ridden government finances–a problem left alone for too long–should never be taken lightly.

Ishiba said the government-sponsored bill for enabling the issuance of deficit-covering bonds “shouldn’t be used as a tool in a power struggle” between the parties. We agree entirely.

This bill must not be used as a bargaining chip by the LDP as it pushes for the early dissolution of the lower house for a general election.

In the divided Diet, where the opposition holds a majority in the upper house while the ruling bloc controls the lower house, what can be done so this nation has “politics capable of making decisions”?

Deeper discussions should be held about how to formulate new rules for running Diet affairs.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 16, 2012)
(2012年9月16日01時15分 読売新聞)

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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