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Thursday, July 15, 2010


Mr. Kan and the Diet

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, whose Democratic Party of Japan suffered a severe setback in the Upper House election, will have an extremely difficult time managing the Diet. The ruling forces' strength in the chamber is 12 seats short of the majority. Theoretically, no bills will be enacted if the Upper House, now controlled by the opposition forces, votes them down. This is because the ruling coalition does not have a two-thirds majority in the Lower House, which would enable it to reverse Upper House decisions on bills.

At present, it appears difficult for the DPJ to form a coalition with an opposition party to control the Upper House. Mr. Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of Komeito, which has 19 seats in the Upper House, denied that his party will form a coalition with the DPJ. Komeito is critical of the involvements of both former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa in political funds-related scandals. In the Upper House election, Komeito cooperated with the Liberal Democratic Party in some districts.

Your Party, with 11 seats in the chamber, is also negative about forming a coalition with the DPJ. Although the party is pushing for reform of the national servants system as the DPJ is, it is against the DPJ-led government's Japan Post reform plan. The LDP, which intends to use its strong showing in the election as a first step toward its resuscitation, is likely to strengthen attacks on the DPJ and try to force Mr. Kan to dissolve the Lower House.

The only way for the Kan administration and the DPJ to effectively govern is to gain cooperation from opposition parties on individual issues. But such a case-by-case approach would require painstaking preparations. Mr. Kan must prioritize his policy measures and unite the DPJ's opinions on the management of Diet affairs.

His administration and the DPJ must not only fully explain its policies to the opposition parties but also carefully listen to opinions from the opposition groups so that effective compromise will be reached. The opposition parties on their part should refrain from executing power-game maneuvers intended only for the sake of their own partisan interests.

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