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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 September 3 - 9  > Diet must discuss key national issues before House of Representatives general election
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2008 September 3 - 9 [POLITICS]

Diet must discuss key national issues before House of Representatives general election

September 3, 2008
Akahata editorial

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is scrambling over its presidency in the wake of Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo’s sudden resignation announcement.

No matter who becomes LDP president and is elected to be the next prime minister, the next prime minister cannot forgo dissolving the House of Representatives for a general election.

Both Fukuda and his predecessor Abe Shinzo never obtained electoral verdict. In light of parliamentary democracy, how can we allow three consecutive prime ministers to remain in office without public support? The upcoming Extraordinary Session of the Diet should be the place to scrutinize government policies on key issues before asking for voters’ judgments in the general election.

Political stalemate

Prime Minister Fukuda made up his mind to resign because the ruling LDP-Komei coalition had reached a deadlock and lost public support, and even ruling politicians are now complaining that election campaigning will be difficult with Fukuda as prime minister. At a news conference he called to announce his resignation, Fukuda admitted that his government is in a critical condition, and said, “It will be very difficult if I continue to be in office when the support rate for the cabinet is in decline.”

Standing firm for the “structural reform” policy, Fukuda has done a lot to help large corporations gain as large profits as possible while increasing economic hardships on ordinary people. Thus, while the poverty rate increased and economic inequalities widened dramatically, he stubbornly stayed the course and reached a dead end. In foreign policy, Fukuda insisted on deploying the Self-Defense Forces abroad in violation of the Constitution in subservience to the United States. This approach has not only deepened antagonism with the public but also helped establish a stumbling block to the peaceful resolution of the conflicts.

Two prime ministers in a row, Abe Shinzo and Fukuda Yasuo, gave up power due to failed policies. This unusual situation shows that the LDP-Komei government is now on the verge of political disintegration. Japan’s politics is now faced with an increasingly important task of radically changing policies as well as finding a responsible bearer of political power.

Under these circumstances, the next prime minister should not be allowed to stay in power without obtaining an electoral verdict. Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo said at the news conference that he decided to resign in order to allow policies to continue under new leadership. But this way of justifying his resignation is untenable.

Make clear what will be at issue in election

Now that the dissolution of the House of Representatives for a general election is inevitable, the upcoming Extraordinary Session of the Diet should be used to hold thorough discussions in order to make clear what will be at issue in the next general election.

The nation is faced with innumerable problems that call for immediate solutions, including the defense of the public from skyrocketing prices and the recession, the new health insurance system that discriminates against the elderly, the need for a reliable social insurance system, a review of the use of temporary workers that treats young people as disposables, and the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to the Indian Ocean and Iraq.

An election is the most important opportunity for citizens to exercise their sovereign rights. Making clear the issues before the electorate is a major duty of political parties and politicians. If a general election is called after the selection of a new prime minister without clarifying the issues, it will undermine citizens’ rights.
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