Thursday, March 5, 2009

Time for Conversations that Count

"The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none." — Thomas Carlyle
The government's inconsequential posturing has continued unabated since the financial and economic turmoil began last autumn. A full five months after the Lehman Shock, politicians have not produced a single policy that speaks to this crisis.

The first supplementary budget of fiscal 08, put together by the administration of then-Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, concentrated on measures to offset rising fuel costs. The second supplementary budget is powerless against this crisis because it was based on optimistic forecasts. The 09 budget is based on a framework established by the Fukuda cabinet last summer. Essentially, it caters to the fiscal reform movement.

The administration of Taro Aso has produced nothing but empty policy. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan is focused solely on politics, not policy. Ever since the upper house election in 2007, the relationship between the two houses of Japan's Diet has been similar to the "conflict for conflict's sake" approach taken before World War II by the House of Peers and the House of Representatives. It's a lamentable situation.

"Don't let trivial matters distract you from the important things." — Japanese proverb
The gap between what Aso says and does, and the disgraceful actions on the world stage by former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa are unforgivable flubs in the realm of politics. While Nakagawa resigned, the Diet has yet to put Aso on notice. The opposition parties in the upper house should quickly call for a vote of censure.

The Diet is not dealing with the No. 1 item of interest among the public: how to break through this economic crisis. DPJ chief Ichiro Ozawa, the likely victor in the next general election, issues comments on all sorts of trivial matters but has forgotten the important ones. The parties need to get together and discuss the issues that really matter!

Printing More Money
At an international gathering, Aso committed Japan to more public spending. But he's all talk. The government as a whole has not moved to loosen financial policies since the Lehman Shock. It has been passive about any spending increase. Moreover, it has been irresolute on financial policy and has connived with large banks on the ruthless credit crunch and credit withdrawals.

Because of this inaction, the economy and the living standard of the Japanese teeter on a cliff. To bring Japan back, the government needs to print more money. Issuing money would give the country new fiscal resources to rebuild. Both sides of the political aisle should investigate this option.