More than slogans needed

Former Democratic Party of Japan chief Ichiro Ozawa is likely to strengthen his political activities after his April 26 acquittal by the Tokyo District Court of a charge of conspiring with his secretaries to falsify reports of Rikuzankai, his political funds management body.

Allthough lawyers acting as prosecutors Wednesday appealed the April 26 ruling to the Tokyo High Court, the DPJ had earlier decided Tuesday, on the initiative of DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi, an ally of Mr. Ozawa, to withdraw its disciplinary measure against him. After his indictment in January 2011 on a charge of violating the Political Funds Control Law, the DPJ temporarily suspended Mr. Ozawa’s party membership.

The party’s decision Tuesday may embolden Mr. Ozawa to accelerate his political activities, especially his campaign against Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s plan to eventually double the rate of the consumption tax from the current 5 percent to 10 percent from October 2015. But he must be prudent and cautious in his behavior. Mr. Ozawa should realize that just shouting a slogan to oppose the tax hike and Mr. Noda’s politics will not work.

Thanks to Mr. Noda’s persistent attempt to persuade people to accept the tax increase plan to help stabilize the nation’s social welfare system and reduce the nation’s snowballing debt, about 40 percent of those polled are inclined to accept his plan. According to a Kyodo News poll, 75 percent of the polled said they don’t expect anything from Mr. Ozawa’s political activities.

If he opposes Mr. Noda’s plan to raise the consumption tax, Mr. Ozawa needs to rationally explain how raising the consumption tax in the midst of continuing deflation could wreck the Japanese economy and fail to bring about an increase in total tax revenue.

Denouncing Mr. Noda’s tax raise plan, Mr. Ozawa insists that by changing the composition of the nation’s budget, the government can appropriate enough funds to strengthen the social welfare system and carry out other measures. But his explanation is vague, so he needs to offer a clear explanation of how this will be done.

His call that the DPJ should stick to its 2009 Lower House election manifesto based on the idea that “People’s lives come first” may find support among some. Given the current financial difficulties, Mr. Ozawa must work out convincing policy measures to prove he is not just shouting slogans but is serious about changing Japan through well-planned policy measures.