党首討論 肝心な政策論議が足りない

The Yomiuri Shimbun(May. 28, 2009)
Aso, Hatoyama must openly debate policies
党首討論 肝心な政策論議が足りない(5月28日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Taro Aso and Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama finally faced off in the Diet in a head-to-head debate as ruling and main opposition party leaders Wednesday. However, the first battle between the leaders produced somewhat disappointing results. Future contests should promote in-depth debate, focusing on policy matters.

Wednesday's debate was a prelude to the House of Representatives election that must be held by early September. With the next lower house election apparently firmly in mind, Hatoyama harshly criticized the fiscal 2009 supplementary budget as a waste of money, saying it was "of bureaucrats, by bureaucrats and for bureaucrats."

In response, Aso, president of the Liberal Democratic Party, pressed Hatoyama by saying that former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa failed to give a full account of the situation regarding illegal donations his secretary allegedly received from Nishimatsu Construction Co.

Deriding the DPJ's stated plan to ban donations from companies and other organizations, Aso said, "If the party blames the system for its violations of the law, it's just switching the focus of the argument." The two leaders' debate on the matter was conducted at cross-purposes.


Fraternity vs reality

At the beginning of the debate, Hatoyama spoke about building a fraternal society--his central policy plank--beginning with the original policy in an apparent attempt to dispel any perception he is Ozawa's puppet.

Aso retorted that the most important task facing the administration was to deal with the "reality" the country faces, including the economic crisis, rather than being preoccupied with "abstract theory." As the head of the nation's administration, Aso's comment was understandable and right.

As Aso pointed out, if Hatoyama wants to win public support for his notion of a fraternal society he needs to spell out what he means, and how it fits with the rest of his policy platform.


Funding social security reform

Steering the debate toward which party was best able to hold the reins of government, Aso pointed to problems he said beset the DPJ's social security and national security policies, claiming they would result in "extreme insecurity" in society.

However, Aso did not delve further into the issue of how the DPJ would raise funds to implement its policies, such as providing income guarantees for farming households and increased child benefits, which the DPJ has said can be paid for by eliminating wasteful spending.

Presently, the public are chiefly concerned about social security issues such as the public pension, and health and nursing care.

Time given over to debate was limited, but still, it is simply inexplicable that neither leader brought up the issue of raising the consumption tax rate to fund the social security system.

Meanwhile, Hatoyama stressed that a change of government is necessary to put an end to bureaucrat-led politics, but he presented no concrete measures.

Overall, the debate lacked detailed policy discussion, which, afterall, should be the basis of debate.

The next lower house election should be fought on policies and vision for this country.

The current Diet session is expected to be extended. We hope the leaders of the two parties will clarify points of contention regarding their policies as the next lower house election approaches by holding regular one-on-one debates in the Diet, and conducting thorough discussions on policies regarding social security reform, diplomacy and national security.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 28, 2009)
(2009年5月28日01時30分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-05-28 08:55 | 英字新聞

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