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HOME  > Past issues  > 2010 September 29 - October 5  > Can’t Kan hear people’s criticism?
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2010 September 29 - October 5 [AGRICULTURE]

Can’t Kan hear people’s criticism?

October 2, 2010
At the opening day of the extraordinary Diet session, Prime Minister Kan Naoto gave his policy speech.

The point of interest was Kan’s response to the public criticism expressed in the July House of Councilors election regarding the issue of a consumption tax increase and the issue of relocating the U.S. Futenma base in Okinawa. He only said, “Now we have entered the phase of launching the new administration in earnest,” and “This is the point of departure for my ‘true-to-its-word Cabinet’.” Without reflecting on the extent of public criticism, what he in essence promised to do is to satisfy the demands of the United States and Japanese business circles. Can’t Kan hear people’s criticism? Or is he just unwilling to hear it?

‘True-to-its-word’ while taking ‘so-what’ attitude

In his first policy speech at the ordinary Diet session in July, regarding the issue of former Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio’s violation of his election promise to move the Futenma base outside Okinawa and the “money-for-politics” scandals involving Hatoyama and Ozawa Ichiro, Kan stated that because Hatoyama and Ozawa resigned from their positions, they were exempt from having to take responsibility for these issues. People blamed Kan for avoiding his responsibility to deal with these issues. However, his attitude became worse. Following the “true-to-its-word Cabinet,” Kan said, “We are not at the stage of asking which of Japan’s past administrations bear responsibility for the present state of Japanese society, trapped in this feeling of impasse.”

The reason why people deepened their sense of stagnation is because although the DPJ took power as the result of the 2009 House of Representatives general election, policies on key issues are the same as the former Liberal Democratic-Komei government. Kan’s speech showed his intention to evade responsibility for controversial issues such as the relocation of the Futenma base and the proposed consumption tax hike. It is just a “so-what” attitude that dismissed public criticism. In addition, does he intend to also exempt the former LDP government from responsibility for their maladministration by not asking “which of Japan’s past administrations bear responsibility” for the current situation? In his July policy speech, he used the phrase, “to return to the origins of that historic change of government.” However, he excluded this phrase from his speech this time.

The question is what he will do in his so-called “true-to-its word Cabinet”. Kan in his policy speech focused on economic growth as his first challenge. However, the reason why Japan’s economy has been in a downturn and people have been undergoing hardships for so long is that the government has neglected to take appropriate measures to put an end to the ongoing problem of job insecurity. All it has done is to make large corporations richer and richer, resulting in further aggravation in the overall economy and an increase in the gap between the rich and the poor. Despite the need to shift from the policy favoring large corporations to a people-oriented policy, his “three-phased approach” has nothing to offer in that regard.

Rather, he stated that in crafting the budget for the next fiscal year, he will “prepare a revision plan by the end of the calendar year” in order to reduce corporate taxes as requested by the financial community. As for an increase in the consumption tax, although he encountered fierce opposition to the proposal from voters in the latest House of Councilors election, he proclaimed his intention to “pursue debate on our overall system of taxation, including the consumption tax” using the rhetoric of “social security reforms”. Obviously, he does not intend to take a stand in the interest of the general public.

Loyalty to business circles and US

His “true-to-its word Cabinet” also exhibits dangerous obstacles to a peaceful diplomacy. While mentioning the need to implement “active diplomacy”, Kan stated that his government will reassess the National Defense Program Guidelines “in order to maintain a truly able and effective defensive capability”. He reiterated that he will “work to deepen” and further “develop” the Japan-US Alliance as the “cornerstone of Japan’s foreign and national security policy”. On the U.S. Futenma base issue, he stated that he “will proceed according to the Japan-US agreement reached in May this year.” Clearly, he is announcing a military-comes-first stance.

It is also critical that in his policy speech, he touched upon “the possibility of reducing the number of Diet members” which will weaken discussion of the popular will. What is necessary now is for us to increase our criticism of the “true-to-its word Cabinet”, which is pleading its loyalty to the financial community and the United States, and to fundamentally change the present politics to represent public interests.
- Akahata, October 2, 2010
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