Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Three Bits of Advice for Prime Minister Hatoyama

Political leaders shouldn't slink around in the background. At a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on Nov. 2, Prime Minister Hatoyama apologized for his answer in a previous meeting on Oct. 28. At the earlier meeting, he had responded to Liberal Democratic Party President Tanigaki's main question by saying, "I don't want to hear that from you guys."

Lately the premier has been apologizing a lot. This was a problem with him even before he became premier, but he's had to apologize for thoughtless remarks since becoming prime minister too. He needs to develop the strong consciousness required of a prime minister. At this rate, his politics will turn into so much fluff. The members of the Democratic Party of Japan and the mass media who applaud Hatoyama's thoughtless and untimely remarks should think about their actions.

The DPJ made a contract via its manifesto that ties it to taking political initiative, countering the bureaucrats and dismantling Kasumigaseki, the center of bureaucratic power. It's focused on loosening the bureaucrats' hold on power and abolishing a system where retired bureaucrats head to lucrative positions in private companies. However doubts were raised when Hatoyama appointed former Finance Vice Minister Jiro Saito to run Japan Post. Some questioned the premier's sincerity. At the heart of the public's distrust is Hatoyama's quibbling sophistry. He needs to be honest and sincere with the public.

I travel around the country and talk to people from many regions. These days I'm hearing more dissatisfaction and fear because Hatoyama is ignoring the provinces. Ever since former Transport Minister Maehara halted repairs on Yamba Dam, it's been clear that the government is ignoring the provinces, refusing to answer their questions and using state power to get their way. Midsize and small-scale construction firms are going bankrupt, businesses are closing at a rapid rate because of the extreme cuts to public works spending in the name of cutting the waste in the fiscal 2009 supplementary budget. This lack of understanding by the government is leading us directly to a deep recession in the provinces. People in these provinces are starting to feel that Hatoyama is abandoning them. More people are saying they've been stabbed in the back by the Hatoyama administration and the DPJ. Hatoyama ought to take a modest stance and listen to the people in the provinces.