Policy chiefs of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito on Oct. 7 held their first consultations on the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 to push full-scale reconstruction from the March 11 quake and tsunami, and the Fukushima nuclear fiasco.
The three parties should accelerate their consultations to give people in the disaster-hit areas a greater sense of hope and relief. They should not forget the fact that seven months have already passed since the March 11 triple disasters, and that severe winter weather will soon start hitting the Tohoku region.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and DPJ executives should make serious efforts to build a constructive relationship with opposition forces. They should not repeat the mistakes of former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and former DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada, who failed to properly do the groundwork with the opposition to smoothen ties, thus making Diet business unnecessarily bumpy.
On the evening of Oct. 7, the Cabinet endorsed the ¥12 trillion third extra budget for fiscal 2011 and the basic policy of securing ¥9.2 trillion through tax hikes. It plans to submit the budget and a bill to secure the necessary funds through tax increases for reconstruction to the Diet in late October. The first, second and third supplementary budgets altogether cover 80 percent of the ¥19 trillion estimated to be needed for reconstruction.
But the government should seriously consider the possibility that the planned tax hikes could hamper economic recovery, thus deepening deflation and delaying financial reconstruction.
The government plans to redeem bonds issued to raise reconstruction funds in about 10 years. The LDP thinks that the period for bond redemption should prolonged to lower the government’s financial burden. The government should humbly listen to the LDP’s opinion.
Apart from the budgetary measures, the Diet faces the important task of rectifying a big gap in the value of Lower House election votes in populated and depopulated areas. The Supreme Court has found the gap unconstitutional. Both the ruling and opposition camps should urgently seek a consensus on how to correct the situation. In doing so, however, they should not reduce the number of seats for proportional representation as doing so would lead to a suppression of minority opinions.
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