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Friday, Aug. 10, 2012
Confusing political games
A confused state of affairs developed in the Diet this week. On Tuesday night, the Liberal Democratic Party decided to submit a no-confidence motion against the Noda Cabinet to the Lower House and a censure motion against Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to the Upper House, despite the fact that the LPD, the Democratic Party of Japan headed by Mr. Noda and Komeito had cooperated to pass a bill to raise the consumption tax through the Lower House.
Earlier in the day, middle-sized and small parties, including People's Life First headed by former DPJ chief Ichiro Ozawa and Your Party, had submitted a no-confidence motion against the Noda Cabinet to the Lower House.
But on Wednesday night, Mr. Noda, LDP chief Sadakazu Tanigaki and Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi held a meeting and agreed to pass the consumption tax hike bill as soon as possible. That means that the LDP has given up on the idea of submitting a no-confidence motion.
The three leaders, who are for the consumption tax increase, must seriously consider the possibility that the tax hike could kill a Japanese economy long suffering from deflation, especially by hitting hard small businesses, which play an important part in the Japanese economy.
The fact that at one time the LDP was poised to submit a no-confidence motion has underscored the fact that the cooperative foundation among the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito is only a temporary tieup to enact the bill. The measure will eventually double the consumption tax rate from the current 5 percent to 10 percent from October 2015.
While both Mr. Noda and Mr. Tanigaki, both former finance ministers, are eager to raise the consumption tax rate, Mr. Tanigaki has another goal — to get back power from the DPJ by winning in the next Lower House election. That's why, at one point, the LDP insisted that unless Mr. Noda promised to dissolve the Lower House, it would not take part in the voting for the consumption tax bill in the Upper House.
In their meeting on Wednesday night, Mr. Noda, Mr. Tanigaki and Mr. Yamaguchi agreed to appeal for the confidence of the whole people — that is, to hold a Lower House election — in the near future.
Mr. Noda, who has the power to dissolve the Lower House, must realize that if he postpones the dissolution to a much later date after the Diet has enacted the consumption tax hike legislation, he will only deepen people's distrust of politics.
He also must realize that because the consumption tax increase was not mentioned at all in the DPJ's manifesto for the 2009 Lower House election, whose results brought the party to power, he has an obligation to dissolve the chamber at an early date. The latest developments also showed that partisan interests are the LDP's primary concern.