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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 January 28 - February 3  > Aso’s call for a ‘society of peace of mind and vitality’ sounds like an empty slogan
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2009 January 28 - February 3 [POLITICS]

Aso’s call for a ‘society of peace of mind and vitality’ sounds like an empty slogan

January 29, 2009
Akahata, editorial

In his policy speech at the Diet on January 28, Prime Minister Aso Taro called for “commitment to creating a new order” and “a society of peace of mind and vitality.” However he offered nothing to counteract the present hardships the public is experiencing or policies to meet the demands of the public.

20 percent of support rate

The policy speech revealed Aso’s unwillingness to face up to the fact that the support rate for his cabinet began to fall immediately after he took office and that the two-trillion-yen cash handout program, which he offered as the centerpiece of his policy, is facing strong public opposition along with his call for a consumption tax increase.

Every public opinion poll shows that the approval rating of the Aso Cabinet has sharply dropped from around 50 percent to below 20 percent and that the disapproval rating has risen to over 70 percent. More than 70 percent say they do not support the cash handout program. About 70 percent are opposed to the plan to raise the consumption tax rate in three years. Only four months after its establishment, the Aso Cabinet is now described as being on the verge of collapse.

Concerning sweeping mass layoffs that are even taking away the places to live as well as the jobs of contingent workers, the prime minister perfunctorily listed government measures, stopping short of addressing the need to protect jobs by prohibiting major corporations from lawlessly laying off employees.

Aso stated that it is necessary to transfer governmental administration’s main focus to “supporting people in their daily lives” as it “was successful in fostering industry.” However, claiming that “transformation will not be without pain”, Aso has made clear that he intends to ask the public to shoulder “an intermediate level of burden-sharing” in order to provide an “intermediate-level of social welfare.” Apparently, he is using this rhetoric to justify his plan to raise the consumption tax rate. In fact, he said that the government will take necessary legal measures that include a consumption tax increase by fiscal 2011.

While promising to “transfer emphasis to supporting people in their daily lives,” the prime minister did not state that the government will regulate major corporations’ irresponsible ways of doing business or mention the need to ask them to pay more in taxes to make up for the excessive tax breaks given to them. It is clear that the Aso government does not intend to help the public achieve a society of “peace of mind.”

LDP policies at deadlock

After the two recent former prime ministers, Abe Shinzo and Fukuda Yasuo, gave up on their cabinets, the Aso cabinet is losing the people’s trust very quickly. This shows that the Liberal Democratic Party’s policies are at an impasse. It is urgently needed to corner the ruling LDP-Komei coalition through discussions in the Diet and through the pressure of public movements to force a change in political direction.
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