国会正常化へ 無策のまま時間を浪費するな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 6, 2011)
Attention, Diet members: Stop wasting time
国会正常化へ 無策のまま時間を浪費するな(7月5日付・読売社説)

The stalled Diet session will finally resume deliberations on Wednesday.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the two major opposition parties--the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito--have agreed to get the Diet back to normal.

The Diet, since it decided on June 22 to extend its current session by 70 days, has not held any deliberations.

So what is the extension for?

The government and the ruling parties should seriously reflect on that.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan is primarily responsible for the stalled Diet.

Kan reneged on the idea--agreed on earlier by the secretaries general of the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito--of extending the Diet session by just 50 days to pass or vote on three key bills, including the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2011.

Kan did not call on the opposition camp to resume the Diet deliberation strongly enough.
This is apparently due to his guilty feelings over having appointed an LDP member in the House of Councillors as parliamentary secretary for internal affairs and communications, as if he were scheming to win over members of the opposition party one at a time.

Kan also hinted at the possibility of his dissolving the House of Representatives for a snap election by saying that "energy policy will be the biggest point of contention in the next national election."


Politics going nowhere

This self-righteous political style has created a political vacuum and amplified the people's distrust of politics.

According to a recent public opinion poll taken by The Yomiuri Shimbun, 66 percent of pollees sense "stagnation in politics."

In regards to when they hope to see Kan step down, a combined total of 72 percent said either "as soon as possible," or "by the end of August."

Ryu Matsumoto, newly appointed by Kan as reconstruction minister, has also caused a stir.

During a weekend visit to disaster-hit areas, Matsumoto repeatedly made high-handed remarks. After Matsumoto waited for a prefectural governor to appear in a reception room, he told the governor, "When a guest comes, you have to be present."

If he thinks he is a "guest," he is wrong in his judgment.

No matter how feckless it is, the administration should not waste any more time doing nothing.

It is vitally important for the government and the ruling parties to seek cooperation of the opposition parties on high-priority policies and swiftly implement them.

DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada once again called on the LDP and Komeito to cooperate in the early enactment of a bill for a temporary law to allow the issuance of deficit-covering special public bonds, which Kan cited as one of the conditions for him to resign.


Listen to opposition

Both the LDP and Komeito call for a drastic review of the child-rearing allowances and the settlement of the issue of how to secure state funds for basic pension benefits this fiscal year, as part of those funds have been diverted for reconstruction purposes in the first extra budget for fiscal 2011.

What the opposition parties are asserting is quite reasonable in the sense of holding down the deficit-covering special public bonds as much as possible.

To secure funds for reconstruction, the DPJ must retract nonessential policies contained in its manifesto.

A matter of particular urgency is relief for victims of the accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, rather than "a bill concerning special measures on renewable energy sources," whose enactment Kan insists on.  喫緊の課題は、首相が執着している「再生可能エネルギー特別措置法案」より、原発事故の被災者救援だ。

The legislators need to start deliberating a bill concerning a nuclear damage compensation support organization, to be created to pay compensation to victims.

The LDP wants to modify the bill to clarify the responsibility of the central government, rather than merely holding Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled plant, responsible for the damages.

Both ruling and opposition parties need to reach an agreement and try to get the bill passed into law.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 5, 2011)
(2011年7月5日01時19分 読売新聞)

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