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Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Second extra budget passes
The Upper House on Monday enacted the ¥1.998 trillion second supplementary budget for fiscal 2011. It includes ¥800 billion for reconstruction of areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, ¥545.5 billion in grants to local governments and ¥275.4 billion to cover expenses related to damage from the accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Budget allocations related to the nuclear plant accidents include compensation for victims of the accidents, a fund for health checks of Fukushima Prefecture residents and the disposal of soil contaminated with radioactive substances.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan and leaders of the ruling and opposition parties should be ashamed of having enacted the budget so late — 4½ months after the March 11 disasters.
Mr. Kan had listed the passage of three things as preconditions for his stepping down: the extra budget, a bill to float government bonds to fund the fiscal 2011 initial budget and a "feed-in-tariff" bill to have power companies buy all the electricity from renewable sources at a fixed price.
The last bill is important for Mr. Kan, who has announced the idea of building a society that does not rely on nuclear power.
His failure to consult with Cabinet members and leaders of the Democratic Party of Japan on this idea has caused political confusion, contributing to delays in Diet business.
A Kyodo News poll has found that the approval rating of his Cabinet has fallen to 17.1 percent, even though 70.3 percent of the polled support his call for building a society that does not rely on nuclear power.
In the Liberal Democratic Party, there are forces that are not supportive of the feed-in-tariff bill. Unless the LDP makes clear its stand on nuclear power, it will not have strong justification for not cooperating with the DPJ to pass the bill.
The LDP and Komeito say they will not cooperate with the DPJ to enact the bonds bill unless the DPJ revises its 2009 Lower House election manifesto, especially its promise to provide a uniform child allowance, in principle, to each child-rearing family irrespective of the family's income level.
It would be irresponsible of the LDP and Komeito if they did not present positive measures to encourage people to have families and to help them rear children.