The Democratic Party of Japan, which suffered serious setbacks in the December 2012 Lower House and the July 2013 Upper House elections, held a meeting of local chapter leaders on Aug. 22 to begin to reinvigorate the party. Not much time is left. The party must quickly review its basic policies and recast them in a way that will distinguish them from those of the Liberal Democratic Party. Some DPJ members call on party chief Mr. Banri Kaieda to resign as an expression of his responsibility for the party’s defeat in the Upper House election. But at this stage the party should concentrate on writing convincing policies to give people an alternative for the LDP’s policies.

The DPJ decided to set up a panel to work out a policy to counter the economic policy of the Abe administration and also to deepen intraparty discussion on reform of the tax and social welfare system, the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade scheme, energy issues and the issue of exercising of the right to collective self-defense.

The DPJ must come up with a program to make the social welfare system sustainable by placing a reasonable financial burden on the public. Although the Abe administration drew up a plan for reform of the tax and social welfare system, important issues have been postponed. The main thrust of the Abe administration’s economic policy is massive public works projects, injection of a large amount of money into the economy through the Bank of Japan operation and a neoliberal labor policy. Public works projects and massive monetary easing by the BOJ will not result in a stronger economy and the Abe administration’s labor policy will only weaken the position of workers. The DPJ must create superior policy measures. It also needs to strictly monitor the government’s negotiations on the TPP to prevent it from making concessions that will weaken Japan’s social fabric.

Within the DPJ, there are various opinions concerning Mr. Abe’s push for exercising the right to collective self-defense. His plan will gut Japan’s postwar basic security posture of “defense-only defense.” The DPJ must carry out serious discussions in an effort to come up with a clearly defined policy to block Mr. Abe’s plan .

Most importantly, DPJ lawmakers and members must consider how to flesh out the basic idea of its party platform adopted in February 2013 — that the party represents ordinary citizens — taxpayers, consumers and workers — as opposed to the Abe administration’s emphasis on policies that benefit big business.

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