Has the Prime Minister betrayed the Japanese people?


Yukio Edano, the Secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) asked this question at a press conference

Yukio Edano, Secretary-general of the DPJ, speaking at the FCCJ

TOKYO (majirox news): The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) arranged three conditions with the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Shinzo Abe, before calling the election that swept the LDP to into power. These specific promises were: that the revenues from the increased consumption tax would be used to fund social security programs; that the government would correct the discrepancy in voting figures (the election that swept Abe into power was ruled a year ago to be “in a state of unconstitutionality” by the Supreme Court); and that there would be positive economic conditions.

According to Yukio Edano, Secretary-general of the DPJ, none of these promises has been fulfilled. When asked at a press conference held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on November 21 as to whether the DPJ felt betrayed by Abe’s failure to honour the agreement, Edano asked instead whether in fact it was the Japanese people as a whole, rather than one party in particular, which had been betrayed.

When questioned further as to whether the DPJ had perhaps been naive in accepting Abe’s word that these pledges would be kept, he asked in reply whether perhaps Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) should be regarded as “devious”, and whether the Japanese people should accept such a party in power.

Although there are some pointers to more positive economic trends (share indices, etc.), Edano claimed that 80 percent of these benefits have gone to a mere 1 percent of the manufacturing companies. The average household, he said, has suffered as a result of “Abenomics”, and even before the April rise in consumption tax, the average real wage had fallen during Abe’s term in office. He compared the three years in which the DPJ held power (including the disasters of March 11, 2011), when GDP rose by 5 percent, as against the 1.5 percent in just under two years of of the Abe administration.

While accepting that the DPJ and other opposition will almost certainly not take power from the LDP in the recently called December Lower House election, Edano claimed that the DPJ has a coherent consistent message, and aims to win those seats where it is fielding candidates.

“With enough seats,” he said, “we will create tension in the Diet,” and expressed the willingness of the party to work with other opposition groups who share views on the Abe cabinet’s actions and proposals.

Though doubts were expressed as to the fitness of Banri Kaieda (DPJ leader) as a leader of the opposition, it would seem that Edano has few doubts as to the unity and the purpose of the DPJ, which aims to put forward an agenda which encompasses more than the current economic program and recognises that households are suffering.

Edano told reporters, “We must help middle-income households and increase domestic demand,” and stated that the DPJ would promote a “bottom-up” approach to putting the country back on its feet, rather than the “trickle-down” economics of the Abe administration. “We must implement this if we are to recover,” he said, while emphasising that the voters must be presented with more choices at the election.

Furthermore, he added, these choices must be realistic and viable ones, thereby encouraging real debate in the Diet, he said, rather than the wholesale implementation of the Abe administration’s policies which, in Edano’s view, have failed.

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