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LDP Domination Has Stifled Debate in Japan
|by Mukesh Williams|
Mr. Shinzo Abe's decision to resign as the Prime Minster of Japan must be seen as a failure to implement a clear domestic and foreign policy. Both the Japanese electorate and the Democratic Party of Japan are more interested in resolving systemic national problems from pension system and health care to declining birth rate and depressed economy, rather than just appeasing the United States.
The Liberal Democratic Party, on the other hand, fells that national problems can be tinkered with to placate the public while it can concentrate on creating a more muscular role for Japan in world affairs. However even to achieve its stated objectives the LDP has not conducted a cross-party or national debate on such issues and has, therefore, not been able to formulate a clear policy that could become a rallying point for the party and the nation.
To win an election is not an end in itself but the beginning to realize the promises made to the nation.
Becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack-luster performance of the LDP, the Japanese electorate voted most of its members out of power in the July House of Councilors election giving an unequivocal majority to the DPJ.
Since the last few years the LDP has felt the need to play a more assertive role in international politics and not be bullied by either the United States or China. At the same time, fearing their military might, it has remained on friendly terms with both. With these somewhat paradoxical objectives the LDP has unsuccessfully tried to lobby for a permanent seat for Japan in the UN Security Council. It has also tried to draw a grandiose right-wing agenda, that Mr. Shinzo Abe called 'nation-building, to give more military muscle to Japan. The LDP also wants to renew the U.S.-backed Anti-terrorism Law that would allow the Marine Self Defense Forces to refuel ships patrolling in the Indian Ocean. The DPJ leader, Ichiro Ozawa, is dead against this idea. The project of nation building has prompted the LDP to question the imperatives of the Japanese Constitution, especially Article 9 that eschews the building of a standing army. Instead of affirming its belief in the old constitution and then going on to revise it after a national consensus, the LDP has established an office to propose a 'Draft of a New Constitution.' It has prepared the way for initiating this process by framing the National Referendum Law. Last year the LDP upgraded the Self Defense Forces from an Agency to a Ministry, thus allowing it the freedom to plan its own budget for parliamentary approval. Most of this has been rather hasty and uncalled for.
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