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Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012
The blame for Diet paralysis
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan bear primary responsibility for the current paralytic political situation — the virtual stoppage of Diet deliberations after a censure motion against Mr. Noda passed in the opposition-controlled Upper House Wednesday.
The behavior of Liberal Democratic Party leader Sadagazu Tanigaki shows that, like Mr. Noda, he is also preoccupied with pursuing his and his party's political interests, and has contributed to the political stagnation.
To get the LDP and Komeito's cooperation in raising the consumption tax rate in two stages from April 2014 and October 2015, Mr. Noda promised Mr. Tanigaki and Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi that he would dissolve the Lower House in the near future. But he appears to have no intention of keeping his word.
Instead, Mr. Noda's DPJ railroaded a bill for reapportionment of Lower House seats and other changes in the electoral scheme, with full knowledge that the LDP and other opposition parties would oppose it in the Upper House. This triggered the censure motion.
The DPJ now blames opposition forces for causing the political confusion, including the ditching of a bill to issue bonds to cover about 42 percent of the fiscal 2012 budget.
Although Mr. Tanigaki helped Mr. Noda in the consumption tax issue, he has launched an offensive against him because he wanted Mr. Noda to dissolve the Lower House during the current Diet session, which ends Sept. 8, and thus strengthen his chance to be re-elected LDP leader in late September.
On Tuesday, the LDP and Komeito submitted a censure motion against Mr. Noda in the Upper House, accusing him of harming national interests because of his blunders in domestic politics and diplomacy. The two parties asked seven smaller parties, which had submitted their own censure motion against Mr. Noda on Aug. 7, to support the LDP-Komeito version of the censure motion.
In that censure motion, the seven parties, including People's Life First led by former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa, had criticized Mr. Noda for increasing the consumption tax rate and forming an agreement among the DPJ, LDP and Komeito on the tax hike and other issues.
When it was realized that, because of the composition of the Upper House Rules and Administration Committee, the LDP-Komeito version of the censure motion could not be put to a vote, the LDP opted to support the version put forward by the seven parties, although it included criticism of the consumption tax rate hike and the tripartite agreement. Komeito abstained from the voting, but the LDP's behavior shows that it acted for the sake of political expedience.
Mr. Tanigaki should realize that such behavior by the LDP, along with the DPJ's selfish behavior, are equally responsible for the current paralysis of Japanese politics.