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Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009
Hatoyama disses LDP but is otherwise vague
By ALEX MARTIN
With the pivotal Aug. 30 election looming, Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama said Friday the upcoming Lower House battle will offer the public an opportunity to hand down its judgment on the past four years of Liberal Democratic Party rule.
The poll will also provide voters a chance to realize the DPJ's goal of shifting the government's center of gravity from bureaucrats to politicians, the opposition chief said in an interview.
But while pitching the grand design of a DPJ-led government, Hatoyama remained vague on details regarding how its policies would be introduced, in particular how they would be funded — a major question haunting both the long-ruling LDP and DPJ in their poll platform pledges.
Hatoyama, who could be the next prime minister if the DPJ wins the election, criticized the LDP for "duping the public with false promises and mismanagement" and said the DPJ, if it takes the government's helm, would improve the economy through securing funding by drastically cutting wasteful spending and by investing in social security.
"(The question) is how much of the LDP's manifesto from four years ago has been fulfilled," Hatoyama said.
"It insisted that everything would improve with the postal system privatization — the economy, even foreign policy. But has it? I believe that four years later, that's the question the public is being asked."
Hatoyama said that by investing in social security instead of public works projects, regions hard hit by the economy could experience positive economic benefits.
Eliminating provisional tariffs and highway tolls would expand household budgets and, in turn, boost domestic consumption and thus the overall economy, he said.
Hatoyama stressed that creating a government led by politicians instead of bureaucrats is the way to reflect a public consensus on policies.
On when the various pledges in the DPJ platform would be carried out — including the establishment of a "national strategy office" that would be responsible for coordinating the government's transition from bureaucratic to political rule — Hatoyama said the plans should be legislated simultaneously as the new DPJ-led government starts up.
"There obviously will be strong resistance (especially) from bureaucrats, but I believe it will be possible with the people's support," he said.
On foreign policy, Hatoyama said the DPJ, like the LDP, will still prioritize the Japanese-U.S. alliance, while also placing similar emphasis on relations with the rest of Asia — especially China and South Korea.
With a U.N. General Assembly and Group of 20 summit set to start Sept. 23, Hatoyama said the DPJ would do its best to meet those schedules, vowing to form a Cabinet beforehand.
If the DPJ-led opposition camp wins the Lower House election, it is very likely the DPJ will form a coalition with the Social Democratic Party, which opposes any overseas dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces, including their current missions, and Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), an arch foe of the postal privatization that started in 2007.
Hatoyama said that although he wound not offer concrete promises now, he believed that to maintain a stable administration — whether the DPJ wins a single-party majority in next year's Upper House poll — it will be important to cooperate with other parties.
"But before anything, we will need to effect a regime change," he said.