EDITORIAL: Time for New Lower House to reinstate Diet’s watchdog role


The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, secured a solid majority in the Lower House in the October 31 lower house elections, held for the first time in four years.

The ruling coalition has achieved what is called an “absolute stable majority” by winning a sufficient number of seats to secure the post of chairman of all standing committees of the chamber and to occupy a majority of seats in all of them. commissions.

This allowed Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office just a month ago, to continue to lead the nation.

Although the voting public gave the Kishida administration a clear mandate, the PLD suffered a weakening of its strength. In a political coup in Kishida, PLD general secretary Akira Amari, who has been sued by corruption allegations, was beaten by an opposition challenger in his single-member constituency.

Kishida and the ruling party should take these facts seriously as they apparently reflect the people’s intention to weaken the overwhelming political power of the LDP to inject healthy tensions into politics.

POST-MORTEM RIGOROUS FOR AN ALLIANCE OF THE FAILED OPPOSITION

Kishida must restore public confidence in politics by confronting the detrimental effects of the political approaches taken by his two predecessors, former prime ministers Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga.

The duo held power for nearly nine years in total. It must also revitalize the political debate in the Diet and maintain a constructive dialogue with opposition parties in order to develop effective plans to address a range of domestic and foreign policy challenges. It still faces a real test of its commitment to its promise to achieve “a prudent and tolerant policy”.

In previous Lower House elections, called by then Prime Minister Abe, the split from the Democratic Party, the largest opposition group at the time, resulted in a proliferation of opposition candidates, allowing the ruling alliance to win 313 seats, more than two-thirds of the total in the chamber, for a resounding victory.

After Abe, who led the ruling coalition to victory in six consecutive national polls during his extended tenure, resigned and his successor, Suga, was only forced to step down after about a year in power due to its erroneous responses to the new coronavirus pandemic, the LDP this time expected a certain loss of seats.

Yet the defeats of some faction leaders and former and current Cabinet members in single-member districts indicate that the ruling party, which replaced an unpopular prime minister shortly before the election to change its face for the election, did not failed to generate a new wave of public support.

Kishida, who has only been in office for a month, has no notable political achievements to his credit. Its political slogans of “promoting distribution” and “new capitalism” are not backed by any specific plan. Voters probably did not know how to assess his leadership qualities.

Recent opinion polls have shown that many Japanese want a break with the political styles adopted by Abe and Suga.

But Kishida has been reluctant to take strong action to tackle the bad legacies of previous administrations, including political scandals over the annual tax-funded cherry blossom viewing parties hosted by Abe and two operators of the ‘schools linked directly or indirectly to Abe, Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution.

His stance on these issues must have affected the performance of the LDP in the election. Amari’s defeat in the single-member district is a harsh verdict by voters against a politician who has evaded responsibility for clarifying the allegations against him regarding the “politics and money” issue.

Amari made the inevitable decision to hand over his resignation from the party’s key post to the prime minister.

In contrast, the alliance of opposition parties that led to a one-on-one battle between opposition and ruling candidates in three-quarters of single-member constituencies did not yield the expected results. because its political effects were apparently limited.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), the main opposition force, has failed to maintain its strength in the lower house. The ambition of CDP leader Yukio Edano to pose a serious challenge to the powerful ruling camp has been frustrated. Among the opposition parties, the Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), a conservative opposition group that refused to join the alliance, greatly increased its strength.

The CDP is to review the results in each constituency to assess the wisdom and effectiveness of its cooperation with other opposition parties, including the Communist Party of Japan in the months leading up to the summer upper house elections. next and make constant efforts to flesh out its policy. platform to offer a realistic alternative to the LDP-Komeito government.

KISHIDA SHOULD PREPARE THE NATION FOR THE 6TH WAVE

Kishida is expected to be re-elected prime minister at a special Diet session that will soon be convened and launch his second cabinet.

The first order of business for the new administration is to make every effort to prepare the country for a possible sixth wave of COVID-19 cases that could emerge over the next winter. The Kishida administration has announced a preview of the measures it will take, focused on securing enough hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

But it was a hastily prepared plan in time for the election. The administration needs to work out details, including measures to secure the necessary manpower.

The number of new cases of COVID-19 has fallen sharply across the country. This is likely to spark a chorus of calls for the revival of Go To government grant campaigns to support struggling tourism and restaurant industries.

Kishida will face a delicate balance in her efforts to revitalize social and economic activities without causing a resurgence of infections. He must learn from the mistakes made by his two predecessors and make responsible political decisions based on the advice of a wide range of experts while offering detailed explanations about them to the public.

Kishida also has a duty to give substance to his political slogans. Immediately before the start of the official campaign period for the elections, he set up a new council to promote his political program of “new capitalism”.

But it is unclear whether the council will be able to come up with effective plans to achieve what it describes as “a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution”. To deliver on his ambitious promise, he must go beyond implementing short-term economic measures and provide a medium- and long-term vision for the country’s post-COVID future.

THE DIET MUST RECOVER ITS FUNCTIONS FOR POLITICAL DEBATE

The 465 newly elected members of the Lower House bear the heavy responsibility of restoring the essential functions of the Diet, which have been severely compromised by the Abe and Suga administrations.

The two previous administrations have repeatedly taken actions that have demonstrated a lack of respect for the government’s responsibility to explain its political decisions and actions and have eroded the Diet’s role as the administration’s watchdog.

They have, for example, refused to respond to opposition demands for an extraordinary Diet session on the basis of a constitutional provision and to convene a session of the Budget Committee, the main arena for political debate in the Diet. They also countered many key questions or provided elusive answers.

They did not engage in serious soul-searching after the remarks of senior government officials in the Diet turned out to be false. They allowed the falsification and destruction of official documents crucial to the debate. They ignored previous government positions on key issues and unilaterally changed traditional government interpretations of the law.

The ruling camp has also abused its dominance in the Diet to impose controversial bills on the Diet, including a bill on the protection of state secrets and new national security legislation.

The overwhelming majority of the ruling coalition, which faced no serious challenges from a weak and fragmented opposition, led to political pride and a lack of discipline and integrity within of the government.

The result of the October 31 general election, which narrowed the power gap between the ruling and opposition camps, is expected to lead to a real change from the arrogant and discretionary way the previous two administrations ruled the nation. .

Lawmakers in the ruling party were busy winning the favor of the prime minister’s office and powerless to change politics from within. They should be ashamed of their performances over the past nine years and take the lead in efforts to revitalize the Citadel of Speech.

If the administration is still unwilling to shed light on the scandals of Moritomo Gakuen, the Kake educational institution and the cherry blossom festivals, the Diet should instead get down to work.

Opposition parties also have a vital responsibility to fulfill. In addition to monitoring the actions of the administration, they must also ensure that the diverse views and opinions of the public are reflected in policies through open political debate.

–Asahi Shimbun, November 1


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