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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 November 26 - December 2  > Prime Minister and Opposition Democratic Party President Ozawa hold their first debate
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2008 November 26 - December 2 [POLITICS]

Prime Minister and Opposition Democratic Party President Ozawa hold their first debate

November 29, 2008
Japan’s Prime Minister Aso Taro, largely in a state of confusion over key national policies, and opposition Democratic Party President Ozawa held their first formal debate in the Diet on November 28.

The debate is sanctioned and managed by the Diet. Due to the “rule” that leaders of opposition parties with 10 or more representatives in either chamber of the Diet are qualified to take part in the one-to-one debate with the prime minister, only the Democratic Party leader can hold the debate.

The debate is supposed to deal with the nation’s basic policy issues, Aso and Ozawa used the televised debate for politicking instead of debating on key policy issues necessary to get over the present economic downturn that has led to mass dismissals of workers and forced many small- and medium-sized companies to go bust.

“The debate was not one of caring for the suffering of many people,” said Kokuta Keiji, Japanese Communist Party Diet Policy Committee chair.

Ozawa repeated his question: “Why don’t you submit another supplementary budget?”

Aso responded to Ozawa by stating, “I will do it during the Ordinary Session of the Diet that opens in January. I want you to help enact the bill to strengthen the functions of the financial institutions.”

Ozawa said, “If that is the case, you should dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election to seek an electoral verdict.”

The “supplementary budget” is needed if the government is to implement its “extra economic measures” announced by Aso on October 30. But the main component of the economic plan is distribution of a two-trillion yen cash payout to every citizen. Very few people take the cash handout as something essential.

On the same day, a Labor Ministry survey showed that more than 30,000 temporary and other contingent workers have lost their jobs due to employers’ unilateral action to not renew contracts. Even full-time jobs are at stake.

Although the prime minister insists that necessary measures can be taken with the current supplementary budget, small- and medium-sized companies, faced with banks’ reluctance to lend money and their harsh method of debt collection, have no means to complete the necessary payment toward the end of the year. Many companies are thus going bankrupt.

At a time when large corporations and major banks are called upon to fulfill their social responsibility to keep smaller businesses going and secure jobs, there can be no room for party politics on the part of responsive political parties.

Nevertheless, Ozawa is interested in how to create conditions favorable to his party’s election campaign, while Aso is trying hard to keep his government from falling apart.
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