JCP-LDP head-on confrontation brought to light in TV debate between party leaders

On July 8, four days before the official start of the House of Councilors election campaign, an NHK political debate program threw into relief the head-on confrontation between the Japanese Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party.

The nationally televised debate was attended by seven political party leaders, including Shii Kazuo, JCP Chair, and Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro, who is also LDP president.

The JCP-LDP confrontation was manifest to viewers on major foreign and economic issues.

JCP Chair Shii pointed out that Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's foreign policy is subservient to the U.S. and fails to show how to achieve economic recovery.

Citing Prime Minister Koizumi's failure in the Japan-U.S. summit talks to protest against the U.S. soldier's rape of an Okinawan young woman and his offer to cooperate with the U.S. President Bush in killing the Kyoto Protocol, Shii said that the prime minister made "two big mistakes" in following in the U.S. footsteps.

Referring to the Koizumi Cabinet's "structural reform" plans, Shii said that they lack measures for economic recovery and will only worsen the economy with increased bankruptcies and unemployment, cuts in social welfare programs, and tax increases. What is necessary is to help boost the household economy and demand, he argued.

Prime Minister Koizumi refuted Shii in a fury, saying, "The JCP's opinions are completely opposed to the LDP's. Are there any alternatives to structural reform?"

Shii proposed as the measures to increase public demand, a cut in the consumption tax rate, a freeze on cuts in social welfare programs, and jobs creation. And as the source of revenue, he proposed to halve the 50 trillion yen expenditures in central and local governments for public works projects and increase the government share in social welfare costs.

Hatoyama Yukio, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, tried to show his tough stance on LDP policies, but Prime Minister Koizumi refused to take him seriously, saying, "As far as I remember, Mr. Hatoyama in the question time stated that he is willing to cooperate with my cabinet" in carrying out "structural reforms." (end)