JCP shows the way to break with LDP politics for remaking Japan

Seven party leaders on July 11 discussed their policies and questioned each other to mark the start of the House of Councilors election campaign (July 12). The debate, organized by the Japan National Press Club, was televised live nationally.

Participants were from the ruling coalition Koizumi Jun'ichiro (Liberal Democratic Party), Kanzaki Takenori (Komei Party), Ogi Chikage (New Conservative Party), and from the opposition Shii Kazuo (Japanese Communist Party), Hatoyama Yukio (Democratic Party of Japan), Doi Takako (Social Democratic Party), and Ozawa Ichiro (Liberal Party)

The discussion showed that only the JCP chair was able to present policy alternatives to the Koizumi Cabinet's "reform" plan, which would amount to shifting unbearable burdens onto the people.

Citing the decline in personal consumption in the 1990s under Liberal Democratic Party rule, Shii emphasized that economic recovery can only be achieved through supporting the household economy.

On national fiscal reconstruction, Shii proposed major phased cuts in the budgets for construction-obsessed wasteful public works projects and use of the freed up resources for social services, with a view to gradually decreasing national debts.

Referring to the Constitution and Japan's foreign relations, Shii said the JCP aims at the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The JCP is prepared to change Japan's foreign policy toward one of independence and self-reliance in accordance with the Constitution's Article 9.

In the debate, Shii asked Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro about the estimated number of bankruptcies arising from the write-off of bad loans held by major banks. The prime minister failed to give a specific figure, and said that bankruptcies will take place, no matter what estimates there may be. He said that the government will work to create 5 million jobs.

Shii said that if the government thinks that creating 5 million jobs is necessary, the enormous extent of the possible business failure would be astounding. He said the government must work to help rehabilitate small- and medium-sized businesses, not destroy them.

Shii questioned Prime Minister Koizumi asking if he has any plan to review the new five-year military buildup program which calls for 25 trillion yen (200 billion dollars) of expenditure in the next five years. Koizumi promised to make a review, but added, "A review can go either way, increase or decrease."

On the 1997 Conference on the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol), Shii said to the prime minister that the U.S. is reneging on international trust by trying to scrap the international agreement to prevent global warming. Prime Minister Koizumi just said that he is in no position to accuse the U.S.

Shii warned Koizumi against the Japanese prime minister becoming an accomplice with the U.S. in wrecking the Kyoto Protocol. Shii urged Koizumi to ratify it without the U.S. because Japan holds the key to its coming into effect.

The leaders of two ruling coalition parties, the Komei Party and the New Conservative Party, said they would support and promote the Koizumi reform.

From the so-called opposition camp, the Democratic Party of Japan leader said that the "structural reform" should be carried out without delay.