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Friday, Aug. 19, 2011
A grand coalition for what?
Finance minister Yoshihiko Noda, who is expected to run for an election to choose the next chief of the Democratic Party of Japan to succeed Prime Minister Naoto Kan, has called for the formation of a grand coalition between the ruling DPJ and the Nos. 1 and 2 opposition parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito.
Mr. Noda, who will probably be the only candidate to call for tax hikes in the immediate future, said he would like to seek a grand coalition in order to form a "save-the-nation Cabinet."
Given the control of the Upper House by the opposition forces, Mr. Noda wants to secure smooth passage of important bills such as the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 and the fiscal 2012 budget through a grand coalition.
He believes that a grand coalition is necessary to push reconstruction following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and to restore the nation's financial health.
But he must not forget the simple fact that in the August 2009 Lower House election, voters gave an overwhelming "no" to LDP politics and put the DPJ in power. Forming a grand coalition with the LDP and Komeito will be a simple denial of those voters' will. If Mr. Noda calls for the formation of a grand coalition, a logical step should be to dissolve the Lower House and hold another general election to hear the voice of people. But this path cannot be taken at the moment because of the devastation in the Tohoku region caused by the March 11 disasters.
The control of the Upper House by the opposition forces is not necessarily the reason for the hard time the Kan Cabinet and the DPJ have faced in passing bills through the Diet.
The difficulty in the Diet has mainly derived from the fact that due to a lack of political abilities on the part of DPJ leaders, especially DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada, the DPJ has failed to build constructive relations with the opposition parties in the Diet.
If a coalition is formed, the DPJ will be forced to compromise its major election promises and there will be little or no difference between the DPJ and the LDP. This will not be a healthy form of politics. The DPJ should return to the basics of deepening discussions in the Diet with the opposition forces on each policy matter.