Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Hopes for the New Administration

The events of August 30 in Japan were a kind of peaceful revolution. It was a national uprising. The citizens used the ballot box to end one long political reign and give birth to a new political force. It was a huge shift. It's understandable that the winners were giddy and elated by their victory.

But the important thing is to proceed with care. Don't rush. First seek to understand the election results and figure out why this happened. Analyze the voters' opinions. Take a deep breath and start out by listening to the people. Don't let your passions get the best of you; you need to refrain from picking a fight with the bureaucracy right off the bat. The most important thing for the new administration is to have the resolve to fight the hardships facing the Japanese people today.

Human affairs are important in politics. The leaders need to balance a strong sense of responsibility with passion and vision. Bring the powerful Ichiro Ozawa into the cabinet as vice prime minister. This is the best way to dispel the notion that Ozawa wields his power from the shadows. Don't just appoint experienced ministers from the Democratic Party of Japan such as Naoto Kan, Kozo Watanabe and Hirohisa Fujii. Instead, make a coalition cabinet by appointing veteran lawmakers such as Mizuho Fukushima and Yasumasa Shigeno of the Social Democratic Party and Shizuka Kamei of the People's New Party. This not only serves the purpose of stabilizing the cabinet, but it also will smooth out adjustments with the government bureaucracy. The party and the cabinets need to strike a balance among old, middle-aged and young lawmakers as well. In the middle group, Katsuya Okada, Issei Koga, Hirotaka Akamatsu, Akihiro Ohata, Sakihito Ozawa, Masaharu Nakagawa, Yoshihiko Noda, Hiroshi Kawauchi, Yoshinori Suematsu and Hirofumi Hirano are all good candidates for the cabinet.

The top priority of the new administration should be to shore up people's livelihoods. They'll need to work on aggressive policies to fight the recession and stabilize employment. The unemployment rate is 5.7%. The ratio of job openings to job seekers is 0.42. Prices are falling at a rate of 2.2%. There's a pressing need for solutions to all these problems. Medical care, nursing and pensions need to be restored in a hurry. Put fiscal reconstruction on the back burner and focus financial policies on stabilizing people's lives. There is an especially pressing need for measures to alleviate the unemployment situation.