12年度予算成立 「赤字国債」で野党と接点探れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 7, 2012)
Seek common ground over deficit-covering bonds
12年度予算成立 「赤字国債」で野党と接点探れ(4月6日付・読売社説)

The fiscal 2012 budget has finally passed the Diet.

General-account spending totals 90 trillion yen and total outlays for fiscal 2012 reach a record high if separate special-account spending on reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake is included.

The dole-out fiscal 2012 budget also includes such handout policies as income compensation for individual farmers. The budget relies on issuing new government bonds to cover 49 percent of total revenues, the highest percentage ever.

The fiscal 2012 budget has many problems. However, further delay must not be allowed, to facilitate reconstruction from the March 11, 2011, disaster and economic revitalization. The government should do its utmost to quickly implement the budget.

One concern is that there is virtually no prospect the Diet will pass a bill to enable the government to issue deficit-covering government bonds, due to objections from the opposition parties. If Diet passage of the bill, which will provide financial resources for the budget, is substantially delayed, the government will not be able to implement the budget, which will adversely affect people's lives.

Last year, the bill for issuance of deficit-covering government bonds became a political football. Then Prime Minister Naoto Kan set passage of the bill as one of three conditions for his resignation, and the bill was enacted in late August.


Avoid repeat of last year

Such turmoil should not be repeated this year. The government and the Democratic Party of Japan must create an environment in which they can secure cooperation from the opposition parties.

During deliberations on the fiscal 2012 budget, the opposition parties strongly criticized the government and the ruling parties for covering part of the government's share of contributions to basic pension benefits with special bonds. It is certain the government took such a tricky move--issuing special bonds--to make the issuance of government bonds appear low.

Saying it is an attempt to pull the wool over the people's eyes, the Liberal Democratic Party is urging the government to compile a supplementary budget and change the special bonds to deficit-covering bonds. This is worth discussing if it leads to cooperation with the LDP.

Replacing special bonds with deficit-covering bonds will increase momentum toward the passage of the bill to issue deficit-covering government bonds.

During the latter half of the Diet session, many important bills, including one to raise the consumption tax rate and others on nuclear regulatory measures, are on the waiting list. The ruling and opposition parties should make efforts to build consensus on these matters.


Bold concessions needed

First of all, we suggest the government and the DPJ make bold concessions, such as withdrawing its new pension system plan, the main pillar of which is a minimum guaranteed pension of 70,000 yen a month.

Due to opposition parties' resistance and the DPJ's poor Diet management, budget deliberations were delayed until the new fiscal year, forcing the government to compile a stopgap budget for the first time in 14 years.

The DPJ leadership needs to review what Diet management should be, as the DPJ's way of managing the Diet poses problems for Japan's diplomacy as well.

For example, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was tied up with Diet deliberations when the Nuclear Security Summit was held in Seoul late last month and he was not able to fully utilize the opportunity for summit diplomacy, which is important for Japan.

The DPJ should present to the opposition parties a Diet schedule that takes the nation's diplomacy into account and squarely seek cooperation from them.

The rejection of the DPJ's request for cooperation by the LDP, which was in power for years, would damage national interests. The main opposition party could not escape public criticism.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 6, 2012)
(2012年4月6日01時15分 読売新聞)

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