The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 30, 2013)
Abe must formulate strategy to boost nation's growth
Strong determination and concrete policy measures are imperative in achieving the breakthroughs needed to overcome the crises facing Japan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his first policy speech since regaining power at the plenary sessions of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors.
Abe said the source of his determination to serve as prime minister for the second time lies in his "deep sense of patriotism." He clearly demonstrated his resolve to have his entire Cabinet make utmost efforts to address crises in four areas: the economy, reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake disaster, foreign and security issues, and education.
What he underscored as the biggest and most pressing issue was economic revitalization. A strong economy will help increase individuals' income and strengthen the foundations for social security systems. The prime minister's recognition of the importance of this issue is appropriate.
The government has issued a joint statement with the Bank of Japan that stipulates a 2 percent inflation target. A supplementary budget that includes stimulus measures worth 10 trillion yen will be submitted to the Diet shortly. We praise Abe for setting in motion two of his "three arrows" for economic revitalization--monetary easing and fiscal measures.
Handle divided Diet carefully
The remaining "arrow" is growth strategy. At the Headquarters for Japan's Economic Revitalization, comprising the entire Cabinet, and the Industrial Competitiveness Council, in which relevant Cabinet ministers and outside experts are participating, the Abe administration must hammer out effective policy measures to stimulate private investment to increase synergistic effects with monetary and fiscal policy measures.
To overcome the nation's crises, the prime minister called on the opposition bloc to cooperate. "Let us mobilize the wisdom of the ruling and opposition parties and demonstrate Japan's strength to the greatest possible extent," Abe said in his speech. It also is essential for the administration to carefully handle the Diet, as the upper house is controlled by the opposition.
A focal point in the Diet is that the government must obtain approval for its appointment of the successor to Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa, whose term expires in April. Early passage of budgets and related bills also is of major importance.
Besides holding talks with the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest party in the upper house, the ruling parties should hold discussions with Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party, which share similar views on monetary and economic policy measures. We believe the Abe administration should consider the possibility of joining hands with these parties on a policy-by-policy basis.
How will PM rebuild China ties
In his speech, Abe delivered simple and easy-to-understand messages as he narrowed the points to highlight certain issues.
On the other hand, we consider unsatisfactory Abe's failure to refer to many important issues. We want him to clarify his stances on these issues through Diet debates.
They include the government's policy toward China, one of the nation's biggest pending issues. Abe earlier said the nation would "resolutely protect" the Senkaku Islands. But we wonder how Japan-China relations will be rebuilt.
Abe also did not touch on energy policy. We think he should have provided a full explanation on the necessity of reactivating idled nuclear reactors so that public anxiety over electricity shortages will not hinder economic revitalization.
He clearly stated in his speech that Japan would play a leading role in economic and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
Therefore, he should have Japan enter negotiations on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework so the nation will be able to take full advantage of growth in other parts of Asia.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 29, 2013)