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Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010
Facing criticism from within
The divided Diet is the biggest hurdle for Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the Democratic Party of Japan. Mr. Kan and the DPJ leadership also face criticism from DPJ Diet members for the party's defeat in the July 11 Upper House election. The leaders face a tough job solidifying the party.
The DPJ held a conference of its Diet members on July 29 to mull why it suffered a defeat in the election. A document submitted by the party leadership listing the causes of the defeat pointed out, among other things, that people felt Mr. Kan's remarks about a consumption tax hike came suddenly and received them with suspicion. His predecessor, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, had refrained from talking about a consumption tax raise, saying that his government would not increase the tax during the term of the current Lower House members.
One DPJ Diet member after another called for the resignation of Mr. Kan, DPJ Secretary General Yukio Edano and election campaign chief Jun Azumi. Their resentment is understandable. For example, while the election campaign was going on, Mr. Edano said that the DPJ would try to form a coalition with Your Party — a thoughtless remark as a party leader, which hinted at his expectation of a DPJ defeat. Mr. Kan admitted that his remarks on the consumption tax raise were not carefully thought out.
The DPJ's biggest problem is that it tends to decide on important policy matters and the DPJ government's management without sufficient discussions among party members. This was seen when it adopted its election manifesto for the 2009 Lower House election. The same thing happened with regard to its manifesto for the Upper House election.
For example, the DPJ's main slogan "from concrete to humans" was dropped from its latest manifesto without debate. One DPJ Diet member's statement in the conference summarizes the DPJ's plague — "There are no explanations about the background and reasons that led to Mr. Kan's consumption tax remarks." Mr. Kan must start from the basics — stating his ideas clearly in advance and unifying the party through discussions.