Borrowing a page from U.S. President Barack Obama's playbook, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is taking his campaign to win support for the proposed consumption tax hike directly to the people.
Noda has appeared live on television and posted a video message on a government website.
“(The consumption tax hike) will be the first step from politics that cares only about the present to politics that gives thought to future generations,” Noda told a live program of Nippon Television Network Corp. on March 4. “It will be a precondition for dispelling concerns.”
Noda posted his first video message on Feb. 17, when the Cabinet approved the outline of simultaneous reforms of taxes and social security. Obama speaks directly to the American people through a weekly Internet video address every Saturday morning and has made communicating with the public about his policy goals a priority.
“Noda believes that appealing for voter support is the only way left because discussions (on the tax hike) between the ruling and opposition parties have made little progress,” a government official said.
Many lawmakers in the ruling and opposition parties are opposed to the consumption tax hike.
Noda spoke on a live program of Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) on the night of Feb. 17. He also gave an interview to CNN and a joint interview with foreign media organizations on March 3.
By appearing on TV and granting interviews, Noda is trying to counter criticism that he is reluctant to get his message across.
For example, in response to a question, the Cabinet said recently that Noda has held news conferences at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence more often than any prime minister since Ryutaro Hashimoto.
Still, Noda has, in principle, refused to conduct short, doorstep interviews. His predecessors stopped before reporters and answered questions every day, except on weekends.
An aide to Noda also said the video message has failed to attract as many viewers as the government expected.
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