The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 30, 2012)
Voters must warily scrutinize new parties' vague slogans
How could we entrust Japan's future to a political party that touts a slogan of "ending the use of nuclear power plants," which would likely weaken the nation if adopted?
Nippon Mirai no To (Japan future party) celebrated its inauguration Wednesday, with Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada being chosen as the party leader. Kada said her party will draw up a "program to achieve a nuclear-free society," seeking to gradually abolish all nuclear power plants. Kada added that she wants to achieve the goal within 10 years.
The party's slogans are merely vague concepts, listing phrases such as "stopping reliance on tax hikes," "taking the policy initiative away from bureaucrats" and "diplomacy with dignity." The party has yet to prepare concrete measures, even on important topics such as the economy, social security and national security.
People's Life First and another new party founded by former agriculture minister Masahiko Yamada are scheduled to join Nippon Mirai no To. At first glance, it would seem that Kada called the other two parties to join her. In reality, however, it was People's Life First head Ichiro Ozawa and Yamada who did the behind-the-scenes negotiations for the three parties to reach an agreement on unification.
Nippon Mirai no To's empty slogans and the disorderly shifting of allegiances among former House of Representatives members scrambling to be reelected in the coming general election are clear examples of how the quality of politicians has deteriorated.
Irresponsible energy policy
Kada's "sotsu gempatsu" slogan, which literally means "graduating from nuclear power plants," is basically no different from the "datsu-gempatsu" slogan adopted by several other parties, which literally means "breaking with nuclear power plants."
Touting such a slogan without showing a clear path to achieve the goal is a mere display of a desire, which obviously is irresponsible.
Nippon Mirai no To should prepare a concrete plan on how to stably supply electricity and secure an alternative energy source to nuclear power as well as how to deal with the economic loss and unemployment that plant shutdowns would bring. The party also needs to explain how to deal with the continuing necessity of human resources development in the nuclear sector.
In launching itself, Nippon Mirai no To adopted the "Lake Biwa declaration," which includes a sentence that reads, "The prefecture with the greatest unrecognized risk of being damaged by possible accidents at nuclear power plants is Shiga, which is near Wakasa Bay, where a number of aging nuclear plants are located." This statement clearly lacks consideration for the feelings of municipalities where the power plants are actually located, neglecting the fact that Shiga Prefecture benefits from electricity produced by such aging nuclear plants.
We urge Kada to reconsider her intention of entering national-level politics merely for the interests of Shiga Prefecture. It is said that what obsessed Kada's mind the most in launching the new party was whether she would be able to handle the jobs of governor and party leader simultaneously. We assume she will face various hardships in carrying out her dual duties, as this is the first time for Kada to run a political party.
The man behind the curtain
It seems that Ozawa had no compunctions about putting an end to People's Life First, a party whose name was carefully chosen by Ozawa himself. However, this is no surprise, as it is apparent that Ozawa wished to avoid entering the election campaign as a party leader, considering his image. In exchange, Ozawa's opinions were reflected in the draft of Nippon Mirai no To's election platform.
The efforts of People's Life First to form an alliance with Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) failed, and a new party comprising only former Democratic Party of Japan members would be unlikely to receive attention in the election campaign. We assume Ozawa's intention was to rally from behind by installing Kada, who has a clean image, as leader of the new party. Another display of Ozawa's tactical mastery.
The public's discontent against conventional parties has soared after a prolonged period of political paralysis. As a result, various new parties have been emerging and merging in the political arena, in a rather haphazard way. However, we have to put a question mark on their abilities to take the helm of the nation. Their policies have a strong flavor of pandering to the masses.
We ask voters to pay sufficient attention to such tendencies of the new parties and scrutinize their real value in the general election.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 29, 2012)