菅・新首相選出 日米同盟と経済を立て直せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 6, 2010)
Kan must revive economy, restore alliance with U.S.
菅・新首相選出 日米同盟と経済を立て直せ(6月5日付・読売社説)

It was a very hasty selection of the national leader. Naoto Kan, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, was elected prime minister Friday afternoon, only two days after outgoing Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced his resignation.

People may worry about a leader who is elected in such a way. To dispel these concerns, Prime Minister-elect Kan must put all his effort into patching up the strained Japan-U.S. alliance, which is the linchpin of this country's foreign policy and security, as well as turning around the Japanese economy.


Strategic view important

Kan, who entered politics after he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1980 on the ticket of the now-defunct United Social Democratic Party, has been called a "politician of the people." It is true that the common sense of ordinary people is important.

However, we hope Kan, as national leader, will strive to manage politics from a broad and strategic standpoint that protects people's safety and security and attaches great importance to national interests.

Prior to the prime ministerial votes Friday, Kan beat Shinji Tarutoko, chairman of the lower house Environment Committee, by a wide margin in the DPJ presidential election.

Kan's turn has finally come round, as Hatoyama and DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, with whom Kan formed a troika, have both resigned.

Kan drew public attention when he dealt with the issue of HIV-tainted blood products as health minister in the 1990s. He founded the original DPJ with Hatoyama in 1996 and realized its 2003 merger with the Liberal Party, which was led by Ozawa.

Kan garnered broad support from the DPJ in its recent election, probably because of his varied political career and his high name recognition.

But the DPJ presidential election lacked policy debates between the two contenders. Does the DPJ really think it will be able to make a fresh start without examining the mistakes made by the Hatoyama administration?

Kan has started working on appointments to the cabinet and to party executive positions. It is important for Kan to eliminate the dual power structure under which someone can pull strings from behind the scenes to control the prime minister, as Ozawa did.


End dual power structure

Yoshito Sengoku, state minister in charge of national policy, likely will be named chief cabinet secretary, the cabinet's pivotal post, while it is widely expected that Yukio Edano, state minister in charge of government revitalization, will replace Ozawa as the DPJ's secretary general.

When he stood for the DPJ's presidential election, Kan said, "I think [Ozawa] should stay quiet for the time being, and that would be good for himself, the DPJ and Japanese politics." Giving important positions to Sengoku and Edano--both "non-Ozawa" group members--indicates that Kan is distancing himself from Ozawa.

Kan also has announced that he will resurrect the DPJ's Policy Research Committee, which was abolished at Ozawa's behest.

Reviving the council should enliven policy debates within the party, which stagnated due to the centralization of decision-making on policy matters in the Cabinet.

The appointments of cabinet members were delayed until Tuesday, but many important political issues will not wait.

Many people have said they do not know much about Kan's basic ideas on national management or his stance toward amending the Constitution. We hope he will clarify his opinions on these points in the Diet as early as possible.

Kan also said he thinks "it is an overriding principle that the Japan-U.S. relationship is the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy." However, the Japan-U.S. alliance has been seriously damaged due to the Hatoyama administration's bungled handling of the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station.

Not only must the new government abide by the recent Japan-U.S. joint statement concerning the Futenma issue, but it is also essential to assuage U.S. distrust toward Japan on the matter by deciding on the location of alternative facilities and a construction method for envisioned runways by the end of August.

With regard to economic policy, Kan stressed that he "will achieve a strong economy, strong fiscal structure and strong social security in an integrated fashion."

As the finance minister in the Hatoyama Cabinet, Kan has spoken of the need to restore fiscal discipline, including capping the issuance of government bonds in fiscal 2011 at below the fiscal 2010 level.

To this end, he should review lavish handout policies, including the provision of child-rearing allowances, as quickly as possible.

And how about removing the "seal" under which Hatoyama promised not to raise the consumption tax rate during the current tenure of lower house members, at this juncture?


Utilize bureaucrats well

To steadily carry out policies, bureaucrat-bashing in the name of political leadership must cease.

Bureaucratic organizations are of service to the formulation of policies in special fields and in crisis management. Politicians must have the capability and caliber to have a good command of bureaucrats.

Kan met People's New Party leader Shizuka Kamei and agreed to maintain the current two-party coalition. Depending on the results of the House of Councillors election in summer, a coalition government under a new framework may emerge.

A political situation in which a small party uses its deciding vote to push around a major party, which is in too much of a hurry to juggle the number of Diet seats its coalition controls, would seriously distort politics.

The DPJ must realize through its own experience of its recently ended coalition with the Social Democratic Party that a marriage of convenience between parties with conflicts over basic policies concerning diplomacy and national security cannot go well. It should not consider renewing a relationship with the SDP as a coalition partner.

The money-and-politics issues that forced the Hatoyama administration into collapse have not been solved at all, even after the resignations of Hatoyama and Ozawa. If the DPJ is to seek clean politics, it should ask the two to fulfill their responsibility to explain about money scandals in the Diet.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 5, 2010)
(2010年6月5日01時49分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-06 08:14 | 英字新聞

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