小沢新党 大衆迎合の色濃い「生活第一」

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 13, 2012)
Ozawa's latest political party is mainly a populist stunt
小沢新党 大衆迎合の色濃い「生活第一」(7月12日付・読売社説)

The third-largest party in Diet, after the Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party, has been born. The new party's size makes it a force to be reckoned with in national politics, especially in light of the dissolution of the House of Representatives for a general election.

We are concerned about the addition of yet another factor that could throw Japan's politics into further turmoil.

Former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa and his followers, who had been expelled from the ruling party, held a meeting to inaugurate Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People's livelihoods first) in Tokyo on Wednesday. Forty-nine lawmakers from the lower house and the House of Councillors who had belonged to the DPJ joined the new party.

Ozawa, who became leader of the new party, said, "I'm determined to take action to seek the withdrawal of bills to raise the consumption tax rate in the name of integrated reform."

The aim of launching the new party is to consolidate forces opposed to the consumption tax hike. It can also be said the new party is vying for power in opposition to the line that the DPJ, the LDP and New Komeito have taken on the integrated reform of the social security and tax systems.


A potential rebel network

Ozawa is aiming to form loose alliances with regional parties, including Genzei Nippon (Tax cut Japan) led by Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura, and other opposition parties. In the Diet, the new party plans to form a parliamentary group with the Kizuna Party, which was formed by earlier DPJ defectors.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Ozawa also said he would cooperate with former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and others who remain in the DPJ although they rebelled against the party during the vote on integrated reform bills.

Hatoyama's appalling words and deeds keep dragging down Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, but the number of rebels remaining in the DPJ cannot be ignored.

It looks certain that Noda will experience more difficulties in handling the government now. To counter Ozawa, Noda must do his utmost to maintain cooperative relationships with the LDP and Komeito.


A lack of vitality and solidity

However, the launch of the new party lacks emotional uplift. This is because it is the fourth new party that Ozawa, dubbed the "destroyer," has formed and therefore it lacks freshness.

Among lower house members who joined the new party, two-thirds are first-time lawmakers with weak electoral bases. Their ulterior motive--surviving the next lower house election with opposition to the tax hike as a driving force--can be seen.

The new party's name, Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People's livelihoods first), is a slogan used in the DPJ's manifesto for the 2009 lower house election. An LDP member remarked, "It [the new party] may be taking the same path as the DPJ, which touted a pie-in-the-sky manifesto." This criticism has a point.

It is unclear how the new party would reconstruct critical state finances and cover social security costs, which are swelling by more than 1 trillion yen a year, without the consumption tax hike.

Ozawa also said his party will make it clear that it will seek to end nuclear power generation. There is no denying that such a policy is haphazard. How will a stable power supply be realized?

If the new party proclaims it will put people's livelihoods first, it should give a concrete and detailed explanation of how it will do so. Simply advocating populist slogans to appeal to voters is irresponsible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 12, 2012)
(2012年7月12日01時21分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-07-14 07:44 | 英字新聞

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