--The Asahi Shimbun, July 9
EDITORIAL: Lawmakers should get busy and lead Diet, instead of blocking Kan's efforts
The Kan administration's frustrating inability to function amid the ongoing disaster recovery crisis is nothing short of scandalous.
But what is the Diet doing about it?
Looking at the legislature, we find the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, in tandem with the New Komeito and other opposition parties, has drafted a handful of bills to deal with important policy issues related to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
These include a bill that allows the government to make tentative compensation payments for losses caused by the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
They have also created a bill for full state financing of the work to clean up the debris left by the March 11 tsunami.
On July 8, the LDP and Komeito jointly submitted a bill to the Diet that will create a new entity to buy up loans to disaster-hit small businesses that have run into new debt.
The LDP is also considering legislation to set up a Diet committee to investigate the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant.
Some of these pieces of legislation are similar to the bills and measures being prepared by the Kan administration and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.
But others are more ambitious and substantial proposals reflecting opposition viewpoints.
As expected, the LDP's legislative drive is politically motivated.
The party is apparently hoping to emphasize the delays in the Kan administration's efforts to tackle the challenges posed by the disaster.
The LDP is also seeking to convince voters that the opposition camp is not just causing legislative gridlock by hindering the ruling bloc's proposals.
The LDP seems to have decided that the best way to achieve these political objectives is to propose its own bills.
This is obvious. We are aware of the political plotting that lies behind these opposition moves, and we urge the government and the ruling party to seriously consider demonstrating their magnanimity by adopting those proposals by the opposition that are most constructive.
First of all, in the current circumstances, it is impossible for the ruling camp to enact bills without the cooperation of the opposition parties, which control the Upper House.
What we need now is quick action to enact bills and measures that will help rebuild areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.
But the Kan Cabinet is sinking deeper into a political quagmire. Last week, newly appointed reconstruction minister Ryu Matsumoto quit over his inappropriate remarks, and now Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda has indicated he plans to step down.
All this is happening when there are less than 60 days left in the current extended Diet session.
The situation clearly calls for more vigorous action by the Diet.
There is no time to waste on partisan political battles over policy efforts to cope with this epic disaster.
Lawmakers in both camps should work in closer cooperation to accomplish their duties to benefit the disaster-hit regions and survivors.
In an encouraging move, the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito have revised the government-drafted bill to establish the basic organizational and financial frameworks for the policy efforts for post-disaster reconstruction and submitted it afresh to the Diet under the initiative of their lawmakers.
Legislation drafted and sponsored by Diet members, as opposed to bills written by the government, is an appealing and effective way to promote bipartisan cooperation.
Both the ruling and opposition parties should demonstrate their political prowess by turning the current legislative impasse into an opportunity to expand the role of lawmaker-initiated legislation as an agent of change in this nation's politics.
We should remember that it was legislation drafted by Diet members that first put Japan on the path of atomic energy development.
In the mid 1950s, a nonpartisan group of lawmakers led by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone drafted and sponsored both the bill for Japan's first budget for nuclear power generation and the basic legislation for nuclear power development.
Now, we need legislators in both camps supporting the cause of making Japan less dependent on nuclear power to band together and create legislation to expand the use of renewable energy sources.
This is a great opportunity for the Diet to show that, rather than being incapable of making any important policy decisions while locked in partisan bickering, it can move to help the plight of the disaster victims.