Tanigaki slams DPJ for halting Yamba Dam


Sadakazu Tanigaki, fresh from victory in the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election, tried to pick a fight Thursday with the Democratic Party of Japan over its handling of the controversial Yamba Dam project in Gunma Prefecture.

The former finance minister said the DPJ is ignoring established procedure and acting in a heavy-handed fashion to stop the decades-long public works project.

“It took a long time to get this far and it affects the lives of the local residents,” Tanigaki said in a group interview. “There is a major problem with stopping the construction just because it says so in the party’s manifesto.”

The administration of Prime Minister and DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama has been in full gear since it took power last month trying to fulfill one of its key election pledges: halting wasteful public works projects.

Transport minister Seiji Maehara has angered local residents by refusing to back down on halting Yamba Dam.

Tanigaki charged that the DPJ’s slogan of “policy initiatives led by politicians” means little if it isn’t based on groundwork involving bureaucrats and other parties concerned.

Bureaucrats are knowledgeable about the nuts and bolts of government policies, Tanigaki said, and the DPJ should consult rather than ignore them.

Tanigaki said the LDP, which got kicked out of power after five decades leading the nation, has no intention of opposing the new administration just for the sake of it. But he said his party will raise objections when necessary.

“As the opposition party, we won’t just reject (bills) or say they are no good — we must say that we will cooperate with bills that are good,” Tanigaki said. “But at the same time, we will correct what needs to be corrected.”

Tanigaki’s primary task will be to guide the LDP to victory in the Upper House election next summer. He said the party won’t make wholesale changes to its roster but suggested some could be replaced if they are having problems getting the job done.

“We can’t replace everybody immediately, but if there are some people who are having a difficult time, switching them with candidates who can win may be necessary,” Tanigaki said.

The party should review the policy platform it used for the Aug. 30 Lower House election because it was put together on the assumption it would remain the ruling party, he said.

One decision will be whether to retain its policy of restricting hereditary candidates. As the son of former education minister Senichi Tanigaki, the new party president hinted at the possibility of putting the issue back on the table for discussion.

“What is hereditary? Many people have different ideas of hereditary,” Tanigaki said. “I think that a discussion may be necessary if we can start with (the definition of) hereditary.”