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Wednesday, July 29, 2009
New Komeito chief slams DPJ policies, rules out alliance
By MASAMI ITO
Citing the Democratic Party of Japan's "unreliable" policies, New Komeito chief Akihiro Ota says joining hands with the DPJ is unlikely even if the largest opposition force wins the Aug. 30 election.
New Komeito has been the Liberal Democratic Party's junior partner in the ruling coalition for a decade.
During a recent interview with The Japan Times, Ota slammed the DPJ's "shaky" policy on international security, citing its campaign platform announced Monday that no longer has a clause on its opposition to extending the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.
A special law to enable the MSDF to continue its refueling activities has been repeatedly extended by the ruling bloc and repeatedly rejected in the Diet by the DPJ, until now.
"The DPJ must first deal with its policies that lack a source of revenue, its shaky security policy, its ever-changing positions, and suspicions over (shady) political funds," Ota said. "I am extremely concerned . . . that the DPJ's policies (lack) reliability, consistency and conformity."
But some key promises on the DPJ platform overlap those of New Komeito, including a monthly child allowance and an increase in the lump-sum payment after the birth of a child.
"I think the DPJ has stepped closer to New Komeito's policies," Ota said.
But he stresses there are still major differences.
New Komeito's key platform goal is increasing transparency and strengthening regulations on political funds — the major cause of the public's distrust in politics, Ota said.
"All political parties, including the LDP, must firmly acknowledge the fact that in order for politicians and political parties to fulfill their responsibility, they must have public trust," Ota said. "In this election, New Komeito believes that firm regulations on political funds are vital."
Ota lashed out at the DPJ over two recent fundraising scandals. First came the arrest earlier this year of ex-DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa's aide in connection with illegal contractor funds, and then questionable funding reports on behalf of Ozawa's successor, Yukio Hatoyama, who is tipped to be the next prime minister.
In both cases, their secretaries were held responsible for the scandals and neither lawmaker quit the Diet.
New Komeito's platform, however, stipulates that even if aides are found to have committed wrongdoing, the lawmakers should be held accountable and forced out of office.
"New Komeito, with our intention to change politics from the core by being firm on the problems involving politics and money, is completely different from the DPJ, which has had problems with two leaders in a row over donations," Ota said.
"We would like to take strong action against (Diet members) whose secretaries violated the law by revising the Political Funds Control Law and push them out of the political world."
A decade has passed since New Komeito joined hands with the LDP to form the ruling coalition. The LDP, however, has been the target of harsh public criticism and the support rate for Prime Minister Taro Aso and his Cabinet plummeted while internal strife loomed large.
"The LDP, with the pride of a responsible political party, has overcome various difficulties and I would like the party to show the people that it can take responsible action," Ota said.