LDP must tackle challenges without arrogance: The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) cheering with members of the ruling LDP at the party's 83rd annual convention in Tokyo on March 13, 2016.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) cheering with members of the ruling LDP at the party's 83rd annual convention in Tokyo on March 13, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

Complacent about the current political structure in which it is the predominant force, the Liberal Democratic Party may be inflated with a sense of self-conceit. 

The LDP should humbly scrutinise itself and grapple with a mountain of pending policy tasks.

The LDP held its annual party convention in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his intention to place top priority on pursuing economic revitalisation. 

“[The government] will seek to create a society in which all 100 million-plus people are dynamically engaged, and facilitate a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution,” Abe said.

The economic recovery remains at a standstill and the intrinsic value of the Abenomics economic policy is being questioned. 

Efforts must be made to shore up the growth strategy, including deregulation and expanding export, to defeat deflation. 

The Abe administration’s greatest duty is to take on these policy challenges.

It is worrisome to note that there has been a succession of scandals and verbal gaffes involving Cabinet members and Diet members, as shown by the resignation of then economic revitalisation minister Akira Amari over suspicions that he may have received illegal donations.

In connection with a message in a blog that was posted by an anonymous person who expressed her anger about the rejection of her child’s application to a day care centre, the prime minister said, “There is no way to discuss this.” 

His statement has been criticised as lacking consideration for parents who are desperate about what to do in the face of a dearth of child care centres.

The Abe administration is endeavouring to build more day care centres and secure a sufficient number of child care workers, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that no children are on child care centre waiting lists. 

It is necessary to sincerely listen to the voices of the people involved and improve the quality of needed policies.

More than three years after returning to power, the LDP still maintains a high popular support rate. 

However, there is no denying that one of the factors behind the LDP’s support rate is the public’s strong distrust of the Democratic Party of Japan and other parties. 

It is important for the LDP to keenly recognise its duty without being arrogant, and steadily work to achieve results.

In reference to this summer’s House of Councillors election, Abe criticised electoral cooperation between the DPJ and the Japanese Communist Party, whose basic policies differ from each other. 

“(The LDP) just cannot lose to such irresponsible forces,” he emphasised.

The LDP’s basic policy line adopted for this year included a plan regarding constitutional revision to “promote deep discussions and understanding among the people, and discuss (the issue) fairly and squarely in the Diet.”

The prime minister has said his major goal in the Upper House election is to ensure that forces positive about amending the Constitution win two-thirds or more seats.

What is important is to promote in-depth discussions on the content of constitutional revision. 

It is necessary for the LDP to approach all other parties to invigorate discussions in the Upper House’s Commission on the Constitution and a similar organ in the House of Representatives, thereby expediting efforts to narrow the list of items subject to constitutional amendment.

It is also indispensable to generate greater momentum among the general public for the promotion of constitutional amendment.

Furthermore, there is a pressing need to reform the Lower House electoral system to rectify vote-value disparities.

The LDP hopes to coordinate views with Komeito regarding how to recalculate the number of Lower House seats to be allocated to prefectures through the Adams’ method, based on the results of a national census to be conducted in 2020. 

There is a great difference in the opinions of the LDP, the DPJ and the Japan Innovation Party, with the latter two parties calling for earlier introduction of the method.

It is desirable that the electoral system be reconsidered with the support of as many parties as possible. 

With its position as the largest party, the LDP should demonstrate leadership in forming a broadly based consensus on the issue.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 newspapers.