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Friday, Aug. 12, 2011
Mr. Kan counts the days
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the two main opposition parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, on Tuesday struck a deal, making it certain that the Diet will pass by Aug. 26 a bill to float government bonds needed for the fiscal 2011 initial budget, and a "feed-in-tariff" bill to get power companies to buy all electricity from renewable energy sources at a certain price.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he will resign after the two bills are enacted. Passage of the two bills will satisfy the final two of the three conditions he had set for his resignation. Passage of the second fiscal 2011 supplementary budget, which passed the Diet on July 25, was one condition.
Mr. Kan should remain true to what he said. If he changes his mind about resigning, it would add to the political stagnation that has gripped Japan for about the past 2½ months.
On June 2, amid the commotion caused by the presentation of a no-confidence motion against him by opposition forces, Mr. Kan had announced that he would resign in the near future to persuade anti-Kan DPJ lawmakers not to vote for the motion. His maneuver worked and the no-confidence motion was killed.
Yet, after that, he became politically active, calling for the introduction of stress tests for nuclear power plants and for creation of a "society free from reliance on nuclear power."
His no-nuclear policy was supported by 70 percent of those polled, but the approval rating for his Cabinet plummeted to 17 percent in a Kyodo News survey.
It will be almost impossible for a lame duck like Mr. Kan to see through the execution of major policies. His job now should be to make certain that his successor inherits the policy of phasing out nuclear power without fail.
The deal on Tuesday signifies that the DPJ made great concessions on the free-toll expressway plan, income compensation for individual farmers and the high school free tuition plan. The DPJ had earlier dropped the basic principle behind the child allowance — providing a uniform allowance to all child-rearing families irrespective of their income levels.
DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada and other DPJ leaders surely will face severe criticism from many DPJ members and voters for betraying the party's main promises under the pressure from the LDP and Komeito.