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Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010
Mr. Kan addresses budget panel
As deliberations in an extraordinary session of the Diet started, Prime Minister Naoto Kan for the first time spoke as prime minister in the Lower House Budget Committee, the most important and powerful committee in the Diet. He said Cabinet members, members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and he need to present scrupulous explanations about policy matters.
For his part, Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki promised that his party will refrain from partisan maneuvers that could damage people's lives. The attitudes shown by Mr. Kan and Mr. Tanigaki are welcome. Because the Diet is divided, with opposition forces controlling the Upper House, it is all the more important for both the ruling and opposition forces to make efforts to have constructive Diet discussions. They must learn to conduct Diet business in a mature manner so that Diet business does not stall.
Mr. Kan said his sudden talk about raising the consumption tax caused his party to lose in the July 11 Lower House election. But he stressed that regardless of who is prime minister, the issue of the state's financial reconstruction won't go away. He said he would like to see a suprapartisan venue for discussing a consumption tax raise, including proposals from opposition parties.
As Mr. Tanigaki said, the government and the DPJ must first present their thinking to the opposition parties. Mr. Kan and the ruling party must show a realistic path toward Mr. Kan's goal of achieving a "strong economy, strong finances and strong social welfare" while combating deflation. In doing so, they must prioritize policy tools needed to attain the goal.
Mr. Kan and the DPJ also must pay attention to the fact that voters are confused over apparent discrepancies between the the manifesto that the DPJ touted during its 2009 Lower House election campaign and its manifesto for the July 11 Upper House election. They need to clearly explain whether some of the main ideas expressed ahead of the Lower House election have been dropped or changed, including the creation of a National Strategy Bureau directly under the prime minister.