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Reform bills shouldn't be exploited as political tool

Publication Date : 09-08-2012

 

The integrated reform of the social security and tax systems is a vital issue that will determine Japan's future. We cannot allow ruling or opposition parties to toy with these matters for the sake of their own interests or political maneuvering.

Several minor opposition parties, including the People's Life First, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, have submitted a joint no-confidence motion against the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to the House of Representatives and a censure motion against Noda to the House of Councillors.

In opposing the proposed increase in the consumption tax rate, these parties argue that a tax hike would be a breach of the Democratic Party of Japan's election manifesto and that the Noda Cabinet can therefore not be trusted.

We urge the three parties that have reached an agreement on revised bills for the integrated reform--the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito--to duly vote down the no-confidence and censure motions.

LDP position problematic

However, the wrench in the works is an LDP reaffirmation of its hard-line plan to submit its own no-confidence motion against the Noda Cabinet and a censure motion against the prime minister, unless Noda promises to dissolve the lower house soon for a snap election. The LDP following through on their pledge could push the three-party agreement to the brink of collapse.

Any no-confidence motion is certain to be voted down in the lower house, but a censure motion could easily pass the upper house. A censure motion, although not legally binding, could lead to a boycott by opposition parties of upper house deliberations on the reform bills, making passage of the bills extremely difficult.

We consider it to be the pinnacle of stupidity to push the reform plans back to the drawing board, just when they are on the brink of realisation. The resulting logjam would also negatively impact other serious issues, such as leaving personnel appointments for a nuclear regulatory commission to be launched in September up in the air.

Considering the recent political stalemate with the Diet divided between the ruling camp-controlled lower house and an opposition-controlled upper house, the three-party agreement on the reform bills was seen as a major step toward returning to a political climate where decisions can be made. If the agreement collapses and the reform bills fail to pass, public opinion of existing political parties could nose-dive.

We see the LDP's willingness to seek an early dissolution of the lower house, even if it sacrifices the integrated reform, as incredibly selfish.

Promises must be kept

Some political observers believe LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki is insisting on a lower house dissolution during the current Diet session because without one, he will face a difficult reelection fight in his party's leadership race in September.

The LDP is completely unjustified in preparing to submit a censure motion against Noda without regard to the party's agreement to hold a vote on the reform bills at a Wednesday session of an upper house special committee, as was proposed by the DPJ.

The three parties' agreement stipulates that they intend to pass reform legislation during the current Diet session. The DPJ's administration of the Diet has been somewhat problematic. Nevertheless, if the LDP unilaterally goes ahead with its plan, it could render any agreement between political parties invalid and wreck mutual trust between them.

Even if the LDP returns to power through a snap election, how could it expect opposition parties to cooperate on raising the consumption tax?

We applaud Komeito's drawing a line in the sand with the LDP, insisting that passage of reform legislation should be prioritised and not used as a tool in political power struggles. We urge Komeito to stick to its position.

 

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