DPJ platform vows to weaken bureaucrats

Diet members would craft policies; child allowance in '11

by Alex Martin

With a month to go before the Aug. 30 election, the Democratic Party of Japan unveiled its campaign platform Monday, featuring five main principles centering on a government led by politicians rather than bureaucrats.

The platform includes five main promises, including a complete review of the budget, a ban on the “amakudari” custom of giving retired senior bureaucrats jobs in industries they previously oversaw, and creating a monthly allowance for families of ¥26,000 per child starting in 2011, a year earlier than originally planned.

“We are at a historical turning point,” DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama said in announcing the manifesto.

“Our single most important goal is to bring people back to the center of politics,” he said, stressing the need to reform the current bureaucracy-oriented politics.

The DPJ is riding high in opinion polls and faces a very real chance of unseating the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito coalition.

The LDP plans to reveal its manifesto by the end of the week.

The DPJ’s platform is broken down into five categories: elimination of wasteful use of taxpayers’ money; child-rearing and education; pensions and medical care; local autonomy; and employment and economy.

Pledges include providing income support for households engaged in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, establishing toll-free highways and re-examining postal services, all intended to bring “livelihood” back to rural communities.

The platform promises a complete review of the budget to cut waste as a way to secure resources to finance the party’s measures.

On foreign policy, the manifesto states the DPJ will seek a close and equal Japan-U.S. alliance, assume a central role in United Nations peacekeeping activities, liberalize trade and investment, and pursue global warming countermeasures.

The manifesto pledges to slash Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, setting a far more ambitious goal than the 8 percent target set by Prime Minister Taro Aso.

The manifesto includes five main “plans” that map out specific methods by which a DPJ-led government would shift power away from bureaucrats. One plan is to appoint more than 100 Diet members to posts in ministries and agencies and have them take a central role in drafting, adjusting and deciding on policies.

The platform calls for abolishing vice ministerial meetings and establishing a national strategy bureau, which would hire from both the public and private sectors. The prime minister would decide policies on the budget and diplomacy.

Hatoyama said he is ready to take responsibility if a DPJ-led government fails to meet these pledges.

“In the event that we fail to bring about a regime change — something we promised the people we would do — it goes without saying that I will take grave responsibility for my lack of ability as (DPJ) president,” he said.

DPJ manifesto

The DPJ pledges to:

• Achieve a government led by politicians, not by bureaucrats.

• Eliminate wasteful spending of tax revenues. Set up a national strategy bureau directly under the prime minister to set basic policies on the nation’s budget and diplomacy.

• Offer a child-raising allowance of ¥26,000 for each child of junior high school age or younger.

• Provide up to ¥100,000 per month to those who have already exhausted unemployment benefits and are in vocational training.

• Seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

• Introduce income indemnity to all farming households.

• Waive all expressway tolls and abolish gasoline taxes.

• Make public high school tuition free.