Friday, March 25, 2011

A Word to the Government on its Great Quake Policies

Thoughts of a grand coalition without sincerity create a hundred potential pitfalls and no advantages; there are no true friends in a me-first system

All that begins sincerely will end sincerely. Sincerity is the basis for all human action. Without it, nothing is obtainable.

The actions of Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chief Secretary Katsuya Okada don't seem especially sincere. What creeps out is the same "me first" philosophy we've seen before.

They continue to disregard the policy requests of the opposition but then request that Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki join the Cabinet. They use "sincerity" as a political strategy. Propriety is lost in favor of bad faith bargaining. The ways of Kan and Okada lack propriety. I have repeatedly urged the government to "sincerely request cooperation from those who can help," but Kan and Okada have chosen an improper strategy. And thus nothing will move forward. Their approach is poor.

If you're going to solicit the help of the LDP and other opposition parties, then first the Diet's proceedings must be normalized. Rethink the idea of separating the budget from other related bills and bulling through a vote, and instead aim for normalizing Diet proceedings. The ruling party must also consider the demands of the opposition.

In the political world, many are talking about how Kan and Okada deliberately acted in a way that would muzzle the LDP. That show's how bad they have handled things.

If they are really interested in creating a renewed sense of national unity and getting the cooperation of the opposition, they need to first normalize Diet proceedings and then ask properly for help. But to ignore the LDP's proposed bills on tsunami protection and ask for a "grand coalition" of cooperation is an insincere and bull-headed strategy. Insincere politics creates a hundred problems and no solutions. Using this disaster to measure one's political power is nothing short of a crime.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Diet Has Work to Do

First on the list: take measure of the tsunami prevention bills shelved since last year and supported by lawmakers in the LDP and New Komeito

"Don't hesitate to correct errors."
-- Confucius

How many lawmakers who refused to endorse the tsunami prevention bills tabled since last year paused to reflect on their actions once they saw the vast tragedy of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami? Many lawmakers didn't listen to Diet member Toshihiro Nikai's plea that "we should act quickly on these tsunami bills." But if any are feeling embarrassment or remorse for ignoring his plea, these are honorable politicians.

Supporters of the bill were Nikai (the former minister of trade and industry) and other members of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party. Nikai is an expert on crisis management, considered the top authority on the subject in the political world. He is second to none in his knowledge of disasters, earthquakes and crisis management. He has also studied tsunamis. For a long time, he has been preaching the necessity of the tsunami prevention bills.

There is no "if" in politics, but when the bills were introduced last year, if the Democratic Party of Japan had understood the need for them, they most likely would have passed and the laws would have been part of current policy toward the giant tsunami.

But we can't change the past. There's no use worrying about what might have been. It's still not too late for these bills. To bring Nikai's legislation back to life, the ruling and opposition parties need to hold a joint conference right away.

Finally, I have some harsh words for the government and the ruling party. The Kan Cabinet is using this moment to realize its DPJ manifesto, This is no time for foolishness. Put all your energy into crisis management.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kan DPJ's 'Everyone for Themselves' System Threatens to Further Isolate Japan on Global Stage

As problem is aggravated, Japan may never regain its stature; DPJ members, this is no time to be asleep — we need action!

The "everyone for themselves" ethos of Japanese politics is gnawing away at the country. All sorts of evils spring from this same source.

I am sincerely anxious that most of the legislators on the Democratic Party of Japan have lost that sense of what it means to be a politician. From my vantage point, Prime Minister Naoto Kan seems only concerned with defending his own territory. Chief Secretary Katsuya Okada and Kan are cut from the same cloth, acting only in the interest of preserving their positions. The same goes for former Foreign Minister Maehara, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano, Economics Minister Yosano and the other Cabinet members. They look as if they only care about protecting their own turf. I can't help but think that their spirits have been worn down by the "everyone for themselves" mentality that permeates the Kan administration.

The DPJ as a whole seems to have no vision for the future and no strategy. They just try to prolong their political lives by dodging the dissolution of the Diet and general elections. It's a serious problem.

Now that the budget bills have passed the lower house, the DPJ lawmakers should rise to the challenge. They should hold a joint plenary meeting of both houses of the Diet and decide whether the Cabinet should resign en masse or a general election should be called. To prolong things with no vision and no strategy is the worst option.

The confusion surrounding the Tokyo gubernatorial election stems from an "everyone for themselves" attitude that begins with current Governor Shintaro Ishihara. The chaos surrounding that election is caused by just about every candidate being consumed by a desire to put themselves ahead of the crowd.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Finance Ministry, BOJ Plans to Shrink Economy Loom Large

If the populace doesn't wake up to this threat, Japan's future is in danger. The next worry is that they'll use the excuse of suddenly rising food prices to hike interest rates. It's quite likely that the small companies and mom-and-pop shops suffering under the deflationary spiral will suffer more when rates are hiked. The Finance Ministry and the central bank are walking Japan to the brink.

Japan is trapped in a deflationary spiral that has left many of our fellow Japanese without jobs or struggling to stay afloat. Small businesses and mom-and-pop shops are struggling with finances every day and looking bankruptcy in the eye.

However, the government, the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Japan ignore the lives of the Japanese people and worry only about finances. The central bank gives no thought to the welfare of the people and leaves the country on a deflationary course. The central bank ignores the importance of employment.

While all of Japan suffers from deflation, the rest of the world is being hit by rising food prices. Countries are moving to control the price hikes. In the midst of this, there's a danger that Japan will raise interest rates. If the Bank of Japan does this, it's going to unleash some major problems. Small companies and mom-and-pop shops will be trapped in a nightmare if some prices start to creep up while their businesses are trapped in a deflationary depression. The government needs to execute policies that counter rampant deflation. If Japan can't overcome the deflationary depression, it has no future.