The basic policy document adopted by the Democratic Party of Japan puts forth a fundamental idea clearly in contrast with the policy line of the Liberal Democratic Party. But some of its proposals lack boldness or are fuzzy, apparently to avoid an intraparty schism and to make it easy to cooperate with other opposition parties in the July 2007 Upper House election, a “decisive battle.”

In the document, the top opposition party sets down “living together” and creation of a “just nation, Japan” as the party’s goal, and calls for the establishment of a social safety net and eradicating the gaps between the haves and the have-nots — an antithesis to the policy line of the LDP, which has emphasized deregulation.

As a means of increasing the people’s sense of security concerning pension, the DPJ in the 2005 general election campaign boldly proposed raising the consumption tax rate from the current 5 percent to 8 percent and using the tax revenue to pay for the basic portion of pension. But the party has now dropped the tax-rate raise, a move that the other opposition parties are likely to accept but may make it difficult to secure enough funds.

While the DPJ earlier proposed creating an International Peace Cooperation Corps to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations, it now says that Japan will take part in such operations even if it requires military measures under the U.N. Charter. This language is aimed at appeasing party elements opposed to creating a separate organization from the Self-Defense Forces.

The party also proposes attaining self-sufficiency in staple foods, paying from the state coffer the difference between the production costs for staple foods and their market prices to every farming household and dividing the nation into about 300 “basic local autonomous bodies” to promote decentralization. These policies either are unrealistic or need clarification.

Some policies like liberating teachers from desk work and making permanent employment the basis of labor policy would receive the public’s support. But the party has yet to boil down its policy proposals to realistic measures.

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