Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Doubts about Former Agent Provocateur Kim Hyon-hui's Japan Visit

No matter how I look at it, her arrival seems like a performance to recover some of the DPJ-led Kan administration's former popularity; all of the cost associated with this visit should be borne by the party, not the country. The government should be engaging in diplomatic exchanges with North Korea; without diplomatic efforts, there will be no solution to the abduction issue.

To solve the abduction issue, the governments of Japan and North Korea need to engage in diplomatic negotiations. There is no possible solution to work toward when neither country is engaging the other diplomatically. Increasing the punishment without diplomacy will not bring about a solution.

Although it is self-evident that diplomacy is necessary, every administration since the Koizumi government has refused to make an effort. We've followed the suggestion of the family groups and increased the economic sanctions, but we haven't moved ahead one bit. The family groups have asked the US for help, but the Americans aren't going to engage the North Koreans in place of the Japanese government. Senior US officials are giving the family groups nothing but lip service.

Among the people involved in the abduction issue, not one has urged the Japanese government to engage in urgent talks with the North Koreans. Why? Do they think negotiations aren't necessary?

They all look at the family associations to figure out which opinion to take. The reason these groups have such unparalleled influence is the support they get from Japan's mass media. If this continues, diplomatic talks won't advance at all. This Japan visit by former agent provocateur Kim Hyon-hui is nothing more than a performance aimed at boosting the popularity of the DPJ-led Kan administration. The Democratic Party of Japan should be footing the bill.

The DPJ government should not be focused on performances aimed at the domestic mass media. The party's efforts should be put behind honest diplomatic negotiations.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What the DPJ Needs to Do

The party needs to overcome its Ozawa-Hatoyama-Kan legacy and create a new system of leadership; if it continues unchanged, the party will fall apart

Do the 400-plus members of the Democratic Party of Japan in the Diet understand the serious meaning of the loss their party was handed on July 11?

When a party loses a national election, it means that the voters have rejected the idea that the party is qualified to govern. The August 30, 2009, election results were also a rejection of the party in power. If we don't wake up to this reality, the future is bleak.

The voters have rejected the DPJ-run government, which held power since September 2009, beginning with the Hatoyama administration. The three leaders during this reign were former DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Prime Minister Naoto Kan (formerly deputy prime minister).
The DPJ has to accept this cold reality. The DPJ's first chapter (which began in September 2009 with Ozawa, Hatoyama and Kan) is over, and the second chapter must begin with a big change of direction. Foreign Minister Okada, Transport Minister Maehara, Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku and the heads of the party's various branches need to face the same fate as Ozawa, Hatoyama and Kan. The new leadership needs to remove any remnant of the Ozawa-Hatoyama-Kan regime and rebuild the party. The way forward for the DPJ is to clean house and install a new group of leaders.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kan's DPJ Beaten Down as LDP Gains in Upper-House Vote

The government can revive the economy, promote employment and spark economic growth by turning around the nation's economic policies

The Kan administration stumbled to defeat in the upper-house election after advocating a 10% consumption tax. The political mood took a sharp turn when the DPJ won 44 seats to the LDP's 51. The administration should first admit its mistake. Imposing a 10% consumption tax in the midst of a worsening deflationary recession would have brought Japan to its knees. We learned in the 1930s what raising taxes in a deflationary spiral can do; history teaches us it would destroy the people's economy. We'd do well to mull over this particular lesson.

The Kan government brought about its own downfall by assisting the Finance Ministry with its plans to drastically hike the consumption tax. It was a very foolish move. But what was also foolish was the administration's wishy-washiness. Prime Minister Naoto Kan is the ultimate populist, as evidenced by his speeches. But because of these moves, he's lost the trust of the people.

The Democratic Party of Japan needs to open its eyes. What the government needs to do above all else is figure out how to get the economy out of its deflationary spiral and onto a path for growth, and how to boost employment. To do this, we need to mobilize on the fiscal and monetary fronts.

After some severe self-criticism, the Kan administration ought to right itself by embracing an aggressive economic agenda to fix our economy.