Any difference between candidates? -- Akahata editorial, April 12, 2001

The Liberal Democratic Party's race for its president has started.

It is said that at issue is Japan's economic recovery.

We already have enough of their nonsense. To address the real issue, they should discuss and make clear what is responsible for the present economic crisis which has left businesses and the people's living conditions worse off. This is not a problem that can be fixed just by changing the prime ministership.

LDP's economic theory is upset

The LDP-Komei coalition government has argued that if major corporations improve their profits, part of them will be distributed to the people. Even the government and the ruling parties have admitted that this economic theory has been proved wrong.

Finance Minister Miyazawa Kiichi stated in the House of Councilors Plenary Session on March 9 that he had been wrong to assume that improved business performance would help improve the household economy. During the April 4 question time (one-on-one debate with opposition party leaders in the Diet), Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro also admitted that increased corporate profits haven't benefited the household economy.

This view was confirmed by the "Outline of the Emergency Economic Package" published by the government and the ruling parties on April 6. The government and the ruling coalition of the LDP and Komei have thus accepted that their economic theory was wrong.

Look at what the LDP-led coalition government has been doing, ostensibly to achieve economic recovery. They have spent 50 trillion yen annually on major public works projects to primarily benefit general contractor construction companies, and generously used 70 trillion yen of tax money to help major banks.

These measures were taken only to discourage personal consumption, including the increase in the consumption tax rate, the continual adverse changes in the social programs, and support for corporate "restructuring."

As a result, the unemployment rate has nearly doubled since the time of the strong-yen caused recession. Bankruptcy has dramatically increased. Personal consumption has declined to the lowest level since the end of WWII. No one can deny that the government is responsible for the failed economic policies.

Now that the government has conceded its failure of economic policy, it must turn away from the policy of propping up the general contractor construction companies and the major banks, to one of directly helping boost the household economy.

However, the coalition government of the LDP and Komei is now trying to implement what they call an "emergency economic package." It will allow the debts of major construction companies and other major companies to be canceled and stop financing small- and medium-sized businesses. It will carry out write-offs of non-performing loans and proposes establishing a stock-buying body, an outrageous idea of favoring major banks.

As the employment situation is in the worst shape ever, government measures in support of major banks and general contractor construction companies will only help increase bankruptcies and unemployment. This doesn't deserve being called a package for economic recovery.

There can be no economic recovery unless personal consumption, which accounts for 60 percent of the economy, recovers. As long as LDP politics continues, the people will not be better off, small- and medium-sized businesses will not improve, and Japan's economic crisis will persist.

We are appalled at the list of the likely candidates for LDP president.

Hashimoto Ryutaro was the prime minister who imposed an additional burden of 9 trillion yen (72 billion dollars) on the people, including the consumption tax increase. He is responsible for causing the present economic recession. Kamei Shizuka, LDP Policy Research Council chair, has called for budgetary measures for wasteful public works projects. He is responsible for making the national and local governments almost bankrupt.

Koizumi Jun'ichiro is a faction leader who fully supported Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro and helped him proceed with the failed economic policy.

No way out

These candidates' calls for economic revitalization and an end to the economic recession sound hollow. The no-way-out situation of the LDP is clear from the fact that when the economic situation turned as serious as today, the party has no candidates other than the same culprits who are to blame for putting the economy in such disarray in the first place.

Whoever ends succeeding Mori as LDP president, Japan's economic crisis will persist and even deepen. (end)