The political process in Japan has reached an impasse. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan should realize that it alone is not responsible for getting things moving again.
The main opposition Liberal Democratic Party should also accept that it is just as much to blame for this sorry state of affairs.
After all, the LDP held the reins of government for more than half a century after the end of World War II. The party is to blame for many of the causes of the current fiscal mess and the bleak future of the nation's social security system.
Here is what we demand of LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki: Now that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is earnestly seeking the LDP's cooperation on integrated tax and social security reform, Tanigaki must prove his mettle as head of the self-proclaimed "responsible opposition party" and strive to implement crucial policies.
The secretaries-general of the DPJ, LDP and New Komeito conferred June 5 to give shape to negotiations on amending the reform bills.
The LDP's Nobuteru Ishihara asked that a date be set for balloting in the Lower House, but no agreement was reached.
Even if discussions to amend the bills do take place eventually, the conditions indicated by the LDP for approving the proposed legislation are by no means easy for the DPJ to swallow.
One of the conditions is for Noda to promise to dissolve the Lower House. Another is for the DPJ to accept the LDP's social security reform initiative in its entirety. The moment Noda agrees to these conditions, his party is bound to start imploding.
The LDP has every right to drive a tough bargain, and we can also see why it is doing it.
Back when the Diet was divided--just like now--during the LDP administrations headed by Yasuo Fukuda and Taro Aso, the then-opposition DPJ was set on getting the LDP to dissolve the Lower House, and did everything it could to obstruct deliberations on bills and LDP-proposed personnel appointments that require Diet approval.
The LDP has certainly not forgotten, nor forgiven, what the DPJ did back then.
Tanigaki is seeking another term in the LDP presidential election in September. To ensure his victory, he obviously wants the Lower House to be dissolved as soon as possible.
Yet, we must remind Tanagaki and other LDP lawmakers anew that it was their party that called on the DPJ in the past to "hold nonpartisan discussions on social security."
The LDP told the DPJ then that "social security and taxation should never become political tools," and that it was "undesirable to change the social security system every time a change of government occurs."
We could not agree more.
What will be the outcome of the LDP rejecting Noda's proposals out of hand in its determination to get even?
Not only will the integrated social security and tax reform be thrown back to square one, but also the LDP's vindictiveness will come back to haunt it when it returns to power some day, dragging it down again to "barren politics of distrust and grudge."
Noda has made his move with a Cabinet reshuffle. Now is Tanigaki's turn to make his move.
As neither leader has a firm footing in their own parties, they might as well consider going ahead with a DPJ-LDP summit to whip their members into shape.
--The Asahi Shimbun, June 6
- « Prev
- Next »