(Mainichi: January 23, 2016 – p. 5)
Opposition parties blasted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy speech in unison on Jan. 22, noting, “He was touting his own horn,” and “He deliberately avoided matters that are inconvenient for him.” The opposition camp intends to step up their offensive on such issues as the alleged influence-peddling scandal involving Economic Revitalization Minister Akira Amari, the Abenomics economic policy, and constitutional amendment. Meanwhile, ruling coalition officials called for sufficient dialogue between the ruling and opposition blocs.
With the government’s refusal of his party’s demand that an extraordinary Diet session be convened last year in mind, Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Katsuya Okada said at a press conference; “It’s really shameful that the Prime Minister, who had avoided holding constitutional debate, is now calling for debate.” He also said: “[Abe] did not refer to the election system for the House of Representatives, or constitutional revision, which are inconvenient for him.”
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Chairman Kazuo Shii also criticized Abe’s policy speech, saying, “Without facing the crisis of peace, democracy, and life created by Abe’s politics, the Prime Minister touted his own horn from start to finish.” He also blasted Abe by saying, “Constitutional amendment (that the Prime Minister says) is the main goal of his ‘challenges.’ We will never allow constitutional revision.”
Japan Innovation Party leader Yorihisa Matsuno commented: “There were no policy measures for the dire economic and agricultural situations in the policy speech.” Social Democratic Party (SDP) Chief Tadatomo Yoshida pointed out: “Although he said a lot of nice things, he didn’t tackle the increase in poverty and the growing social divide in the people’s livelihoods.” Ichiro Ozawa, co-leader of the People’s Life Party, said sarcastically: “Corporate earnings have increased, but people’s real incomes have not risen. Abenomics is supposed to improve the livelihoods of the people, so it is not based on reality.
In response, ruling Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki backed Abe by saying, “Constructive dialogue has not taken root between the ruling and opposition camps. The Prime Minister called on the opposition bloc to cooperate in areas where they can cooperate.” In connection with constitutional amendment, for which Abe expressed enthusiasm, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi urged Abe to be cautious by saying, “Looking at the Diet schedule, it’s not realistic to narrow down the items for which the public’s judgment should be sought on constitutional revision.” (Slightly abridged)