The summer heat lingers, even after the first day of autumn in the traditional Japanese calendar. But I can put up with it because that is the way it is supposed to be.
Athletes and high school baseball players are currently engaged in heated competition at the London Olympics and the National High School Baseball Championship at Hanshin Koshien Stadium.
But what I find unbearable is the rising discomfort index in Nagatacho, the center of politics. Once again, maneuvering over putting the proposed consumption tax increase legislation to a vote in the Upper House has turned into a political brawl.
Eager to have a Lower House election soon, the Liberal Democratic Party demanded that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda promise an early dissolution of the chamber. The LDP threatened that otherwise, it would retract its agreement for the tax hike.
At a meeting on Aug. 8, Noda and the heads of the LDP and New Komeito reached an agreement for the passage of the tax increase bills and dissolution of the Lower House “before long.”
But the timing can be interpreted in many different ways. I hear some DPJ members who fear that they may lose their seats in the election are thinking about ousting Noda.
A consumption tax increase is the bitter pill that is splitting the nation. But if the government sits back and does nothing to reduce its staggering budget deficit, it could undermine Japan’s credibility.
Its inability to break an impasse on challenges could prompt the market to start preparations for “Japan selling.” As a result, interest rates would go up, which could have a serious impact on housing loans and the economy.
It is time we reflect on our way of life, which inevitably will pass down huge debts to our children and grandchildren. The initial tripartite agreement seemed to be based on self-reflection. But actually, it turned out to be political strife in disguise. This is outrageous. For many lawmakers, their top priority is winning elections. Next is becoming a member of the Cabinet. Other than that, their only interest is golf. There are too many such “old-school” lawmakers.
With a political reorganization to take place soon, it would be great if the parties divided into a number of “policy parties” and a single “political situation party.” The latter, which would favor political maneuvering, would soon disappear.
Lawmakers, who want to stay in politics, should apply to related policy parties for a position as “a strategist” on election strategy.
“I don’t want to see politicians’ faces/ It is just too hot” is a “senryu” satirical poem by Fureo Mikami. As might be expected, there are fewer eager politicians, but what they do is outdated and immature.
What happened to the excitement of three years ago when expectations for a change of government were swelling? This summer is just stifling.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 9
* * *
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
- « Prev
- Next »