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Friday, Jan. 27, 2012
Criticism without originality
The Liberal Democratic Party on Jan. 22 held a party convention in Tokyo. LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki said that this year is the time to end the Democratic Party of Japan government. The problem is that while the LDP is strong at criticizing the DPJ government, it cannot clearly present its stance on basic policy matters.
The LDP's platform for 2012 adopted in the convention criticized the DPJ by saying that it has thrown away main promises it made in its manifesto for the 2009 Lower House election, which brought the DPJ to power, and is forcibly pushing policies it did not promise to people beforehand — meaning the planned consumption tax raise and Japan's participation in the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) free trade scheme.
The LDP's stance on these two issues is ambiguous. Its 2012 platform says that it will not join the DPJ's attempt to raise the consumption tax, which it said is a violation of the DPJ's election manifesto. But the LDP itself called for raising the tax from the current 5 percent to 10 percent in its manifesto for the 2010 Upper House election.
The LDP's refusal to join interparty consultations over the tax raise as called for by the DPJ and the government contradicts what the LDP said during the 2010 Upper House election.
As for the TPP, the LDP platform says that more than 80 percent of people feel that the government has failed to provide sufficient information related to the issue. Although the LDP calls for provision of detailed information about the TPP, it does not make clear its position on the TPP itself.
The main policy issues mentioned in the LDP platform include such items as bills to revise the Constitution and enable the exercise of the right to collective defense, and considering the restart of nuclear power stations on the condition that safety is secured. The constitutional and collective defense issues are not pressing issues Japan must solve now. The LDP's stance on nuclear power will be taken as representing the interests of the nuclear power establishment.
According to a recent Kyodo News poll, the support rate for the LDP is only 19.6 percent (against 19.3 percent for the DPJ). Those who don't support any parties accounted for 43.6 percent. The LDP should realize that it has not developed policies that meet people's needs and capture their hearts.