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Friday, May 20, 2011
Impasse over reconstruction
Although the current Diet session is to end June 22, there are no prospects that important bills will be enacted soon. One reason for this is Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki's distrust of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who, after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, sounded him out about the possibility of forming a coalition between the Democratic Party of Japan and the LDP by telephoning him without doing the groundwork first.
Another reason is that Mr. Kan acts as if he was not really concerned about the reconstruction of the disaster-hit areas.
The Kan administration plans to submit a second supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 — to fund full-scale reconstruction — to an extraordinary Diet session expected to start in August or later. This is used as an excuse by the LDP for not cooperating with the DPJ. Mr. Tanigaki on Tuesday threatened to submit a no-confidence motion against Mr. Kan if his administration fails to submit the extra budget to the current Diet session.
The DPJ and the Kan administration must secure the passage of a bill to allow the issuance of bonds for the fiscal 2011 initial budget in this current Diet session. Without the passage of the bill, the government cannot execute a large portion of the budget.
To get cooperation from the LDP and Komeito, the DPJ leadership is ready to modify the child allowance provision, a key DPJ election promise. But it faces opposition to the modification from some DPJ lawmakers who uphold the allowance's basic tenet.
The LDP and Komeito are unlikely to help pass a bill containing the basic outline for the reconstruction of northeastern Japan because the reconstruction agency envisaged by these parties is different from the one conceived by the DPJ and the Kan administration.
Whatever the reason for the current Diet impasse, reconstruction efforts this time are taking much longer to get going than after the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Mr. Kan should make utmost efforts to extend the current Diet session so that the second supplementary budget will be enacted early enough.
The opposition on its part should place its priority on assisting in the stabilization of the lives of disaster victims.