LDP must stop bickering and craft viable policies
We have run out of patience with the Liberal Democratic Party's shilly-shallying. One of the main causes of its vacillation is the lack of leadership by Prime Minister Taro Aso that led to a disastrous defeat in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. It is also attributable to LDP lawmakers feeling rattled in the wake of that drubbing and doubting their chances of winning the uphill battle they face in the upcoming House of Representatives election.
But now is not the time for the party to wage an internal power struggle.
The lower house will be dissolved on Tuesday. The LDP will be on the defensive against the Democratic Party of Japan in the general election on Aug. 30.
Under the circumstances, it is obvious what the LDP should do now: craft responsible policies immediately to seek a voter mandate ahead of the general election.
Former LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa and other lawmakers--who were seeking Aso's resignation--submitted Thursday a list of signatures collected from party members and demanded that a formal session of the LDP's Joint Plenary Meeting of Party Members of Both Houses in the Diet be convened.
But the party leadership pointed out that the number of signatures submitted was not sufficient for such a meeting to be called and that holding such a meeting would plunge the party into further turmoil. The party leadership therefore decided to hold an informal meeting of its members from both houses of the Diet--at which no voting is permitted--on Tuesday, before the lower house is dissolved.
Aso authored confusion
Aso has made hard-to-swallow claims that the metropolitan assembly election was not directly linked to national politics. However, there is no getting around the fact that severe criticism of the Aso Cabinet has led to consecutive defeats for the ruling camp in recent regional elections.
One of the causes of the current confusion is that Aso announced the dissolution of the lower house and a snap general election without holding proper consultations with other LDP members and without giving a general overview of his party's massive defeat in the Tokyo election.
Without verifying the causes for its repeated losses in regional elections, the LDP cannot draw up a blueprint on how to fight the lower house election campaign.
LDP lawmakers will not be convinced unless Aso sincerely apologizes for the defeat suffered in the Tokyo election and asserts his resolve to win the upcoming general election during Tuesday's meeting.
'Rebellion' was stillborn
We also have misgiving over moves by anti-Aso lawmakers.
Were they demanding that a party presidential election be held before the lower house election? Or were they demanding an inquest into their party's recent losses in regional elections? It is undeniable that gathering signatures without specifying the purpose of doing so invited further commotion within the LDP.
Moreover, it was hardly surprising that calls for the LDP presidential election to be brought forward were becoming muted given that no lawmaker has thrown his hat into the ring in a bid to succeed Aso, and there are no major contenders to replace him.
LDP Election Strategy Council Chairman Makoto Koga expressed his intention to step down from the post to take responsibility for the Tokyo assembly election defeat.
Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, who plays a pivotal role in managing economic policies in the Aso Cabinet, reportedly voiced objections to the prime minister's decisions over the lower house dissolution and the general election.
Some party members are said to be planning to campaign for the lower house election under anti-Aso banners and with their own manifestoes.
But such moves will only end up puzzling voters. We urge the prime minister to bring the confusion under control and have LDP members work on their party's election pledges as soon as possible.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 18, 2009)