鳩山・小沢退陣 脱「二重権力」で政策転換図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 4, 2010)
DPJ must shed 'dual power' structure
鳩山・小沢退陣 脱「二重権力」で政策転換図れ(6月3日付・読売社説)

In the end, he probably concluded he had no other option. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced Wednesday he will step down.

When the Hatoyama Cabinet was inaugurated in September, nobody could have predicted the ruling coalition government under Hatoyama--comprised of his Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and People's New Party--would turn out to be so short-lived.

Yet in just 8-1/2 months, Hatoyama bruised the Japan-U.S. alliance--the cornerstone of this nation's foreign and national security policies--over the issue of relocating functions of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, and left the nation's politics in disarray.

Hatoyama also could not shake off several scandals, including one in which his mother had given him a sizable amount of money in political funds.


Top 2 had to go

Together with Hatoyama, DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa will resign. Their resignations are reasonable; both must take "collective responsibility" for allowing the wheels to come off management of the administration.

Hatoyama and the party leadership will resign en masse. The DPJ is due to choose a new leader to succeed Hatoyama at a general meeting of its lawmakers from both Diet chambers Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who also serves as finance minister, has emerged as one of the possible successors to Hatoyama.

The new administration will need to commit itself to reconstructing the Japan-U.S. alliance and rejuvenating the economy by overhauling economic policy.

"The public gradually stopped listening [to me]," Hatoyama gave as one reason for stepping down at the general meeting of DPJ lawmakers. Hatoyama has himself to blame, as his own words and deeds were what turned the public off.

On the Futenma issue, Hatoyama said he would transfer the base's functions "at least" outside Okinawa Prefecture, and he repeatedly said he would settle the issue by the end of May with a plan that would satisfy the United States, the ruling coalition parties and the people of Okinawa. However, he readily broke these promises.

Hatoyama's words and deeds were riddled with inconsistencies. It is only natural the public lost faith in him.

Meanwhile, Ozawa has made no explanation whatsoever before the Diet regarding a money scandal that embroiled his political funds management organization, including a dubious land purchase in Tokyo.

Ozawa's actions have clearly generated distrust of politics and impeded the Hatoyama administration.

In a recent Yomiuri Shimbun opinion survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents thought Ozawa should resign. If Ozawa had not taken responsibility and fallen on his sword, criticism of him would have only grown louder.

Ozawa's resignation apparently reflected these circumstances. Yet if the party truly intends to create a "clean DPJ," as Hatoyama claimed during the general meeting Wednesday, Ozawa should explain in detail his involvement--if any--in a spate of alleged funds scandals that have tarnished his political funds management body.


Dissolve lower house

Any administration that has not been given a mandate by the people--a mantle only provided by a House of Representatives election--lacks legitimacy. The DPJ asserted this when it was an opposition party, and criticized recent Liberal Democratic Party-led administrations for changing prime ministers almost every year.

Ideally, the new prime minister would be chosen after a dissolution of the lower house. Yet the approaching House of Councillors election is not the only pressing issue at the moment. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are rising, and the Japanese economy stands at a crossroads.

The DPJ has no choice but to start forming a new administration to fill the political vacuum as quickly as possible.

The new DPJ-led administration should not repeat the same mistakes made by the Ozawa-Hatoyama regime. Their "dual power" structure--whereby Ozawa controlled the prime minister from behind the scenes--must be wiped out.

The incoming administration must avoid the folly of souring relations between the cabinet and ruling coalition parties for the sake of making policy decisions at the initiative of politicians and the Prime Minister's Office, and keeping discussions within the DPJ under lock and key.


Review party manifesto

The DPJ is kidding itself if it believes simply changing its leader will regain voter support.

The collapse of the Hatoyama administration stemmed not only from problems of political ethics and blunders in foreign and national security policies.

The DPJ's obsession with implementing its manifesto from last summer's lower house election and policy-making made by politicians to the exclusion of bureaucracy have generated negative repercussions.

The DPJ should end its intolerable populist political style that is solely intended to win elections.

The party should review as soon as possible such pork-barrel policies as the child-rearing allowance, income compensation for farmers to cover any gaps between production costs and produce prices, and the gradual elimination of expressway tolls.

The consumption tax rate will inevitably need to be raised to secure revenue to put the fiscal house in order and stably manage the social security system. An increasing number of people have realized the necessity of this tax increase.

The new DPJ leader must have the mettle to change party policies, such as a drastic reform of the tax system. Compiling a growth strategy that will spell out a solid future vision of the economy also will be an urgent task.

At the same time, the Japan-U.S. alliance must be allowed to function properly.

While the United States was becoming more distrustful of Japan, a South Korean patrol vessel was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. The Chinese Navy, meanwhile, is trying to make training exercises conducted by its fleet in open waters a normal state of affairs.

The deterioration in Japan-U.S. relations also is causing concern among other countries in Asia and the Pacific. The incoming administration must adhere to the 2006 Japan-U.S. accord on the Futenma base relocation and ensure bilateral ties are on a solid footing.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 3, 2010)
(2010年6月3日01時05分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-04 06:53 | 英字新聞

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