Questions raised in a Lower House plenary session by Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa seemed as extraordinary as Prime Minister Taro Aso’s first policy speech was unusual. In his speech Monday, Mr. Aso had posed several questions to the DPJ. On Wednesday, Mr. Ozawa hardly tried to corner Mr. Aso; instead, he explained major policy measures his party would pursue if it wins in a coming Lower House election.
Mr. Ozawa said his party would transform the framework of the budget to improve the nation’s social safety nets. He said that by tapping reserve funds, abolishing special accounts and independent administrative agencies, and using other measures, the DPJ would eventually secure ¥20.5 trillion in fiscal 2012 to implement its policy proposals. Although Mr. Ozawa showed how the DPJ plans to raise these funds, whether it can actually do so is a different matter.
He also said the DPJ would cut taxes by ¥2.6 trillion in fiscal 2009, reform the medical services system, introduce child allowances, abolish expressway tolls in fiscal 2010 and 2011, introduce income compensation for farmers, and use consumption tax revenues to cover all of the “basic” portion of pensions in fiscal 2012.
If Mr. Ozawa had questioned Mr. Aso by making use of his party’s policy proposals, both Mr. Ozawa and Mr. Aso could have exchanged ideas on serious issues. Mr. Ozawa also did not answer Mr. Aso’s questions about the DPJ’s stance on such matters as extending the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.
Mr. Ozawa said Japan under the DPJ would establish an equal partnership with the United States, adding that although the Japan-U.S. alliance is the pillar of Japan’s security, the security can be eventually guaranteed by the United Nations’ peacekeeping activities. But his statement needs more elaboration and details. Both Mr. Aso and Mr. Ozawa should avoid talking past each other and engage in meaningful exchanges to help people adequately assess the governing ability of each of their parties.