The Democratic Party of Japan has started preparing a new election manifesto for the coming Upper House election and is scheduled to adopt it by the end of May. Making promises that aren’t financially feasible will only cost the party popular support. Therefore the DPJ should carefully review its 2009 election manifesto and revise it accordingly.
Because DJP Lower House members were busy campaigning, the 2009 manifesto was rather hastily thrown together and contained shortcomings. The DPJ plans to hold town meetings in the nation’s 300 Lower House election districts this month. It should carefully listen to people’s opinions and give them full weight when it draws up the new manifesto.
The 2009 manifesto said that to implement new promises, including the child allowance, ¥7.1 trillion would be needed in fiscal 2010 and ¥12.6 trillion in fiscal 2011. The DPJ expected that the needed funding would be realized by cutting about 10 percent of the nation’s total budget, but its budget-request scrutiny only saved ¥670 billion. If the DPJ adheres to the 2009 manifesto, the child allowance, which is ¥13,000 per month per child in fiscal 2010, will double in fiscal 2011, requiring ¥5.4 trillion. The DPJ should reduce the planned amount if funding falls short.
It also should rectify shortcomings that accompany some newly introduced policy measures. For example, some households covered by the free high school tuition measure will suffer a loss of income due to the abolition of the deduction for dependents from taxable income. It also should take into consideration the opposition of some people to the toll-free expressway plan.
Given the shortages of funds, a prioritization of promises and a scaling down or dropping of promises seem inevitable. The DPJ should also not reject the option of raising taxes in the future. The best way for the DPJ to gain people’s trust is to provide detailed explanations and sincere apologies when it is forced by circumstances to break promises. Most importantly, the DPJ must show the blueprint of a future Japan that can provide the people with a worthy goal and harness their energy and creativity.
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