Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Hatoyama Cabinet Strays Off Course

"The secret of success is constancy to purpose." — 19th Century British politician Benjamin Disraeli

I want Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to hear Disraeli's words. Lately, Hatoyama has been veering flagrantly off course. I've been hearing more people devoted to political change in Japan say they feel "betrayed" by the premier. It is impossible to get a grasp on what Hatoyama stands for by listening to him or watching him in the political sphere. Why did he run for the position, and now that he's got it, what does he want to do with his political power? We can't tell. He looks right, looks left and just sits there without deciding a thing. We can't tell what his objectives are, and he seems incapable of making a firm decision. If he continues like this, the people will begin to remember the historic election of August 30 as the Revolution That Wasn't. If he just sits in the seat of power, he hasn't really changed much from the previous administration. If he doesn't have clear and firm goals, he should retire as soon as possible for the sake of the country.

Lately I've been hearing this sort of comment from a lot of people: "The economic policies of the Hatoyama Cabinet are a lot like Koizumi's structural reforms." Koizumi's reforms were based on the neoliberal views propagated by the US Republican Party: fiscal reform, financial reform, deregulation, small government and a reduction of public works. The fiscal reforms stopped economic growth and squeezed our finances. Deregulation protected the strong and discarded the weak. The Democratic Party of Japan won the election on a platform of opposing the Liberal Democratic Party's approach, and yet once the Hatoyama administration was established, it began the very sorts of Koizumi-like reforms it should have been denouncing. Hatoyama's economic policies are the very essence of neoliberalism. The Cabinet's penchant for fiscal reconstruction, its economy-shrinking policies, its disregard for the provinces and its attack on public works add up to the re-emergence of Koizumi era neoliberal reforms. It's quite reasonable, then, that many people are starting to grumble about what this whole struggle was for.

Prime Minister Hatoyama needs to solve the fiscal scandal surrounding his political organization in a way that meets the approval of the voters. He can't keep running and hiding from the problem. He needs to find the strength to focus his party. Conflict in the ruling coalition can also be tied to Hatoyama's lack of leadership. It makes me want to scream, "Get it together!"

The Code of Political Ethics adopted by the Diet on June 25, 1985, includes this passage: "When there is any doubt about a potential violation of political ethics, we should sincerely work to clarify the situation and make our responsibility clear." Prime Minister Hatoyama needs to live up to these words.