The Liberal Democratic Party, which fell from power in the Aug. 30 general election after ruling Japan for more than five decades, plans to adopt a new platform in late January. The party’s study group in charge of figuring out how the LDP can regain power submitted a report containing basic ideas for a new platform to LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki on Dec. 15.

Without naming the Democratic Party of Japan, the study group said that the LDP will fight a party of “state socialism.” With powerful DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa clearly in mind, the study group said that the DPJ — believing voters have delegated judgment on all matters to the party through the general election — has adopted a centralized decision-making process.

The study group declared that the LDP will pursue formation of a “dignified Japan.” Calling for a market economy with autonomy and order and a balanced budget that does not place tax burdens on future generations, it said the party will seek to create a government “that will not do unnecessary things.”

It is highly doubtful that simple catch phrases will win the hearts and minds of voters, the vast majority of whom are greatly concerned with the poor state of the economy and the deteriorating social welfare system.

More important, it is clear that the LDP has not even begun to examine the small-government policy introduced by the Koizumi administration, which gave priority to financial reconstruction of the state. Under this policy social welfare services and funds to local governments were curtailed. The LDP should determine what merits and demerits Mr. Koizumi’s policy had for the nation’s citizens and create a new policy platform based on its conclusions.

The study group calls for a banner of “correct conservatism” and mentions “values of Japanese-style conservatism.” But slogans will not lead to the revitalization of the LDP. The party’s leaders need to put their ears to the ground and listen to the opinions of people.

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