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A lthough the approval rating of the Hatoyama administration and the DPJ are both waning, the Liberal Democratic Party is having a difficult time capitalizing on the ruling party’s misfortunes. The LDP has adopted a new party platform, but there are no signs that voters are embracing it and switching their allegiance to the party that ruled Japan for more than five decades.

At a Jan. 24 party convention, LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki declared that his party had put behind it both the intraparty power struggles that had characterized the LDP’s rule and the collusive relationship that the LDP had nurtured with the business community and the bureaucracy.

Mr. Tanigaki must carry out the difficult task of uniting the LDP membership and of developing policies that distinguish the party from the DPJ and win over voters. But while a party platform should spell out long-term goals, the new LDP platform focuses too much on criticism of the current ruling party and on abstract visions of Japan’s future.

The platform states, apparently with the DPJ in mind, that the LDP will not adopt a “socialist-like” policy of damaging people’s self-reliance by redistributing gross domestic product in a self-righteous manner. It also says the LDP will fight “national socialist-like” rule in which the ruling party autocratically imposes its judgments on people. The LDP leadership should reconsider whether referring to the DPJ policies as “socialist-like” will generate support for the LDP. We think it won’t.

When the LDP revised its platform in 1995, it added the phrase “small government.” But this phrase has been omitted from the new platform. Instead, the party says now that its basic stance is neither one of market fundamentalism nor one of unprincipled intervention in the market — an expression so abstract that people are sure to have trouble understanding it.

People want clear solutions to their problems, not fuzzy phrases. The LDP should identify what they regard as defects in the DPJ’s policies, then come up with their own policy solutions and clearly explain them to the public.

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