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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 July 30 - August 19  > There can be no policy change
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2008 July 30 - August 19 TOP3 [POLITICS]

There can be no policy change

August 2, 2008
Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo on August 1 reshuffled his cabinet, for the first time since he took office in September 2007. He also made changes in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party leadership.

Akahata editorial (Excerpts)

Reshuffling the cabinet does not mean changing policies.

The cabinet reshuffle this time was aimed at “renovation” emphasizing Fukuda’s perspectives by breaking with his previous cabinet, which was formed without replacing members appointed by his predecessor, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

Fukuda also sought to make some cosmetic changes to raise his approval ratings, which had continued falling even after the G8 summit in Hokkaido last month.

He thought he had to change the cabinet lineup as early as possible to hold the Extraordinary Session of the Diet in late August. He planned to have the bill to authorize SDF ships to resume the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean enacted in order to dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election, after the enactment of the budget for the next fiscal year.

However, some Liberal Democratic and Komei Party members in the Diet publicly disagreed with this scenario, insisting that the Extraordinary Session should be delayed so that the House of Representatives general election be held either late this year or early next year.

Thus, Fukuda’s attempt to reshuffle the cabinet began to stray. There were rumors that he was becoming a prime minister incapable of reshuffling the cabinet.

This clearly shows that the LDP is incapable of running the government without help from the Komei Party.

The root of this mess is the government’s inability to make clear its policy goals since the LDP’s defeat in the 2007 House of Councilors election that forced the previous prime minister out of office. The government has not said whether it intends to continue the “structural reform” policies or not.

Clearly, the Fukuda Cabinet is not willing to change its policies and meet the needs of the public. For example, it compiled a reform plan for social services, which is to be the cabinet’s selling point, but only states that the government will “consider” reforming social services or doing something to help solve the issue of contingent workers.

In addition, the Fukuda Cabinet has made it clear in the proposed criteria for the next fiscal year budget that it will continue to reduce expenditure on social services. It has not given up the idea of raising the consumption tax.

Without changing policies, the Fukuda Cabinet will never be able to regain public support.

The new cabinet lineup has revealed the inability of Prime Minister Fukuda and his cabinet to continue to run the government.

The public wants to see the government move away from policies that force working people to pay more. – Akahata, August 2, 2008
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