衆院代表質問 懸案先送りでは展望開けない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 2, 2012)
Key pending issues suffering neglect in new Diet session
衆院代表質問 懸案先送りでは展望開けない(11月1日付・読売社説)

Debate has begun in the Diet. However, it seems that we cannot expect constructive developments in which the ruling and opposition parties actively seek common ground through Diet deliberations and move politics forward.

Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe faced off with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for the first time Wednesday during interpellations on Noda's policy speech by party representatives in the plenary session of the House of Representatives.

Concerning Noda's promise to dissolve the lower house for a general election "sometime soon," Abe pressed him to dissolve the lower house by the end of this year, saying Noda "must bear the responsibility for his words."

Noda only said, "I'll make a decision properly if conditions [for the dissolution] are met." As those conditions, he referred to the enactment of a bill that will allow the government to issue deficit-covering bonds and rectification of vote-value disparities in lower house elections.

With Democratic Party of Japan members leaving the party one after another, the foundation of Noda's administration is crumbling away beneath him.

The DPJ will inevitably suffer a crushing defeat if it goes into the lower house election amid its current low approval ratings. Noda probably wants to delay the lower house dissolution with an eye out for the timing that would best help the party minimize its loss of seats. However, there is no prospect for that.


Local govts await bond bill

The delay in the enactment of the bill to issue deficit-covering bonds currently seriously affects local governments' finances. Noda should not shy away from an early dissolution of the lower house and needs to take action on his own to obtain cooperation from the opposition parties.

Abe, for his part, should immediately end his party's self-righteous boycott of the current extraordinary Diet session based on a censure resolution against Noda and cooperate in the enactment of the bill to issue deficit-covering bonds since he said he fully realizes the importance of the bill and other key issues.

Regarding the rebuilding of Japan's diplomacy, Abe called for changing the government's interpretation of the Constitution so that Japan will be able to exercise the right to collective self-defense, a stance that aims to rebuild the Japan-U.S. alliance. Noda rejected a change in the government's interpretation of the Constitution for the moment, but said, "There should be various discussions."

Strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance is crucial for protecting the nation's territory and improving relationships with China and South Korea. Because the right to collective self-defense is an issue that concerns the very basis of the nation's security, it is desirable for a cross-party consensus to be formed. We hope the ruling and opposition parties will deepen discussions on the issue to enable the government to exercise the right.


Trade deal sadly neglected

As for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework, Abe stressed that he "opposes Japan's participation in its negotiations as long as it [the TPP] presupposes the elimination of tariffs with no exceptions." Noda only said he will decide on Japan's official participation in the TPP negotiations based on developments in discussions both within Japan and with countries concerned.

It is regrettable that both Abe and Noda are so reticent on the issue, although Japan's participation in the TPP negotiations is an urgent task for the revitalization of the economy.

It is also problematic that the ruling parties are cautious about convening the Budget Committee, which is normally opened after the interpellations by party representatives. It is said this is because they want to duck the opposition parties' questions on Noda's responsibility in appointing former Justice Minister Keishu Tanaka to the post. Such an attitude only worsens the stagnation of the nation's politics.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 1, 2012)
(2012年11月1日08時23分  読売新聞)

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