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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 24 - 30  > Abe’s policy speech completely dodges scandals both new and old
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2018 October 24 - 30 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Abe’s policy speech completely dodges scandals both new and old

October 25, 2018

Akahata editorial

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo gave a general policy speech as an extraordinary session of the Diet was convened after a Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month. He did not say a word about his and his wife’s alleged involvement in the “Moritomo” and “Kake” favoritism scandals as well as about a series of money scandals that surfaced among members of his reshuffled Cabinet. On the other hand, Abe high-handedly expressed his determination to raise the consumption tax rate to 10% and amend Article 9 of the Constitution to unambiguously stipulate the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces. The need now is to bring Abe down from power without delay.

Not a word about ‘Moritomo’ and ‘Kake’

In his half hour speech, Abe painted a rosy picture of his administration by saying that it will create a society where young people can find it easy to take on challenges, change the social security system to be acceptable for all generations, turn threats into opportunities, thoroughly review Japan’s post-war diplomacy, and draw up rules for a new era. However, Abe’s policies so far have evidently failed. Five years have passed since the launch of the “Abenomics” economic policy and the Japanese economy has yet to come back to a stable-growth track, and consumer spending and people’s income levels remain stagnant. Concerning foreign affairs, Abe failed to take a prompt response to and refute Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to start talks for a Japan-Russia peace treaty without addressing the territorial issue. In addition, Abe subserviently gave in to U.S. President Donald Trump’s pressure to launch negotiations for a Japan-U.S. free trade agreement.

What is more, Abe in his policy address neglected to mention the “Moritomo” and “Kake” scandals despite his promise - which was made after the closing of the previous Diet session - to provide a sincere explanation about the dubious sales of national land to the Moritomo school corporation and the opening of a new veterinary school by the Kake school corporation. Concerning the Moritomo issue, Abe reappointed Finance Minister Aso Taro in his reshuffled Cabinet, although a finance minister has jurisdiction over national land trades. As for the Kake scandal, the focal point is whether Abe met with the president of the Kake corporation over the veterinary school plan. The Ehime prefectural government’s document strongly suggests he did. Thus, it is unacceptable for Abe to have dodged the “Moritomo” and “Kake” issues.

PM Abe did not even refer to the allegations against ministers he has just picked to fill posts in his reshuffled Cabinet. Katayama Satsuki, regional revitalization minister, reportedly received money in return for using her political clout on the National Tax Agency. Miyakoshi Mitsuhiro, Okinawa affairs minister, and Watanabe Hiromichi, Fukushima reconstruction minister, are also under a cloud of suspicion regarding "politics and money". Abe, however, is not aware of his responsibility for appointing them.

On the other hand, as for the consumption tax increase to 10% slated for October of next year, he said that he has no intention of reconsidering the plan. He only said, "I will mobilize all possible policy measures to prevent the hike from negatively affecting the nation's economy." As for constitutional amendments, he repeated anew his tough stance, saying, "Political parties will present concrete amendment drafts to the commissions of the Constitution in both Houses." As for the issue of a new U.S. base to which Okinawa voters demonstrated their clear opposition in the Okinawa gubernatorial, Tomigusuku mayoral and Naha mayoral elections, he maintains his aggressive stance by saying that he "will produce results" which is completely opposite to his words: he "will commit himself to" the hearts of Okinawans.

Certainly, Prime Minister Abe is going to trample on the popular will in regard to the tax increase, constitutional revision, and the new base issue.

Public approval ratings for his new Cabinet remains low

PM Abe in concluding his address quoted the late Hara Takashi who was the Prime Minister between 1918 and 1921, "Always give thought to what the will of the people is." This was absolutely laughable. These words simply bounce back to Abe himself as someone who does not care in the least about the "will of the people".

In opinion polls conducted after the inauguration of the reshuffled Cabinet, the Cabinet approval ratings did not go up. Many surveys also indicate a decline in the rate of approval. If he really hopes to "give thought" to the popular will, he should work to investigate the allegations of misconduct against his cabinet ministers, not go ahead with the consumption tax increase and constitutional changes, and to step down from power.

Past related article:
> Reshuffled Abe Cabinet tainted with money scandals in its 1st month [October 20, 2018]
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