The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 1, 2012)
Ishin no Kai must offer more than Ishihara, Hashimoto names
There can be no denying that the campaign pledges announced Thursday by Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) for the upcoming general election are half-baked and seemingly hastily prepared.
We fear the newly formed party is not ready to achieve its professed goal of taking the reins of government.
In a news conference the same day, party leader Shintaro Ishihara stated his party "will dismantle the rigid administrative control of the central government bureaucrats," declaring the party will drastically review the nation's state of being.
The Democratic Party of Japan too once tooted the horn of "rooting out the vested interests of Kasumigaseki," Tokyo's government district, but the DPJ has failed to realize many of its policy pledges. We cannot help but feel Ishin no Kai is making the same flimsy but treacherous move, which gained the DPJ much publicity but amounted to little.
Voters should not be expected to evaluate Ishin no Kai simply through the personal characteristics of Ishihara and the party's acting leader Toru Hashimoto.
We urge the party to develop its current platform into a well-thought-out package of persuasive, feasible policies.
Short on specifics
The party's platform called the pitiful state of government finances "unsustainable," though when it came to how to achieve fiscal rehabilitation, the party equivocated.
With social security expenses swelling by 1 trillion yen per year, new revenue sources are urgently needed, but Ishin no Kai failed to mention anything more concrete than creating a special inheritance tax to fund pension payments. Furthermore, the party said the consumption tax--the bulwark that shores up the social security system--should be turned over to full local control.
Ishin no Kai's campaign pledges do not present effective remedies for the nation's challenges, such as the fiscal crisis and constructing a sustainable pension and health-care systems.
Meanwhile, the party seems to be vacillating on its nuclear energy policy.
Its platform sets a goal of "breaking the nation's dependence on nuclear power generation," and says existing nuclear plants would "fade out by the 2030s as a result," but the party failed here as well to get specific.
It is also problematic that Ishin no Kai's platform does not explain how to handle the issue of reactivating the nation's mostly idle nuclear reactors. If the party supports continuing to use nuclear power for at least the time being, it should say so in its platform.
Although the party deserves praise for supporting revisions to the Constitution, we question the advisability of the changes it called for, such as electing the prime minister by popular vote, something we believe would likely devolve into a mere popularity contest, and abolishing the House of Councillors, a goal that would be extremely difficult to achieve.
The unintelligibility of Ishin no Kai's election pledges when seen as a whole is mainly because it juxtaposes policies that need to be addressed immediately with medium- and long-term tasks. The party needs to clarify which of its plans will get the highest priority.
Nevertheless, the party is correctly pledging to support Japan's participation in talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, as this would allow the growth potential of the economies of Asia to be tapped. Along with this, it is reasonable that the party wants to reform the agricultural sector to enhance the international competitiveness of Japan's farm produce.
The party's platform, for instance, rightly points out the need to limit the number of beneficiaries of the income guarantee system for individual farmers, which was created by the DPJ administration, so that it supports only full-time farm households. We also agree with its call to carry out a drastic review of the nation's agricultural cooperatives.
On diplomatic and security policy, the party has incorporated into its platform the goal of freeing the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense.
Enabling our country to exercise this right would help deepen the alliance with the United States, the core of Japan's foreign policy.
We strongly hope Ishin no Kai will do its best to help realize this.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 30, 2012)