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Friday, July 30, 2010


Mr. Kan and the DPJ under watch

The Kan administration and the Democratic Party of Japan, which was beaten in the July 11 Upper House election, will be on the defensive during an extraordinary Diet session from Friday. Opposition forces, which now have 132 seats against the ruling coalition's 110 seats, control the Upper House in the divided Diet.

In the ordinary Diet session that preceded the election, the DPJ forced voting without giving the opposition sufficient time for deliberations. The DPJ must reflect on this. Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Cabinet members must give scrupulous explanations on policy matters. The DPJ and the Kan Cabinet must not forget that people are watching their behavior in the Diet to determine whether the DPJ government can be trusted.

Mr. Kan's call for raising the consumption tax put a damper on DPJ election prospects. He now appears to have stopped talking about the tax. Because he has made it clear that his government will pursue both economic growth and financial reconstruction, he must present to the Diet concrete proposals to achieve his goal. Economic stimulus measures led to a worsening of Japan's financial state. But a hasty reduction of government spending will devastate the economy. Mr. Kan needs to be both careful and bold about economic policy.

Mr. Kan also must make clear whether he will make changes to the main campaign promises of the DPJ in the wake of the party's defeat in the Upper House election. He must give a clear message to people, who want to know what basic direction his Cabinet will take in leading the nation.

Because the Diet is divided, the opposition parties' responsibility is all the more heavy. They should refrain from posing questions designed only to find fault with the government. They should present arguments that will lead to meaningful compromise over policy matters. There is a move among the opposition to bring a censure motion to Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, who failed to be re-elected in the Upper House election. Cornering her over her defeat is certainly not an issue the Diet must be preoccupied with.

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