Ozawa tells convention DPJ will win

by Kazuaki Nagata

Democratic Party of Japan members gathered at their annual convention Sunday to show their resolution to defeat the LDP-New Komeito coalition’s government in this year’s general election.

“Fellow party members, the time has finally come this year. We will win the Lower House election and will establish a new administration based on the policy of prioritizing the lives of the public,” DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa said during the convention in Tokyo.

Ozawa said that under the global financial crisis and declining domestic economy, Prime Minister Taro Aso and his Cabinet have not called an election to seek public judgment nor have they carried out effective economic measures, resulting in a political vacuum that has lasted months.

If the Liberal Democratic-New Komeito coalition stays in power any longer, “the people’s lives will deteriorate,” he said.

The election has to be held by September at the latest.

With the Aso Cabinet struggling under a sagging approval rate in recent months, the public has been increasing its expectations of the DPJ.

According to a recent poll conducted by Jiji Press, the approval rate for the Aso Cabinet was 17.8 percent. Among the pollees, 37.1 percent chose the DPJ as the party they would vote for in the proportional representative block in the next election, while 21.7 percent chose the LDP.

Support may be shifting to the DPJ for now, but the coalition has been questioning if the DPJ is capable of taking power.

Observers say the DPJ needs to work out details of its policies and where it will come up with the money to pay for them.

Some of the DPJ’s main policy pledges include a ¥26,000 monthly child-rearing allowance, supporting and ensuring income for farmers, and making expressways free.

Yukio Hatoyama, DPJ secretary general, said party members have been coming up with policies without depending on bureaucrats.

“Sometimes, opposition parties are questioned if they are really capable of running the government, although this can’t be known until we actually take control. So it’s a bit unpleasant for us to be” criticized in this way, Hatoyama said Friday.