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Monday, May 2, 2011
Diet and disaster
Both houses of the Diet held extensive deliberations on the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last week. Some lawmakers mixed questions related to measures for coping with the aftermath of the disasters with either an attack on Prime Minister Naoto Kan's performance or a call for him to resign.
This kind of approach could be counterproductive and raise the suspicion that they are pursuing partisan interests.
Now is the time for both government leaders and lawmakers to rack their brains together to work out the best possible measures to help victims of the disasters, push the reconstruction of the country and end the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
A Democratic Party of Japan member reported the hardships of people in the affected areas and pointed out that the construction of temporary housing is slow. He also called for government assistance for work to remove debris in those areas.
A Liberal Democratic Party member first asked about the progress of the temporary housing construction, government assistance for disaster sufferers who have debts or have to repay housing loans, and measures to help disaster victims get income. But he started attacking Mr. Kan on the basis of rather weak evidence, such as a media report that when Mr. Kan visited a school in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, he instructed his aide to have a large number of evacuees gather around him.
A Komeito member first called for a special measure for medium-size and small firms affected by the disasters and simplification of procedures related to the foster parents system for children who lost their parents in the disasters. But he then took up the issue of the recent low approval rating of the Kan Cabinet, accusing Mr. Kan of showing insensitivity to people's feelings and calling on him to resign.
Although people's frustration is mounting over the slowness of the government's post-disaster actions, just attacking Mr. Kan will not produce desirable results.
He must strictly examine what he has done. But lawmakers have the responsibility of making politics responsive to the needs of both disaster sufferers and the country as a whole.