(Nikkei: March 8, 2016 – p. 4)
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is politically predominant in Nagatacho, often finds itself being isolated these days because it tries to impose the party’s policies on others. It remains opposed to radical reform of the House of Representatives election system, while it is way too zealous about constitutional revision than the opposition parties. It is also negative about system reforms to deal with “politics and money” issues in connection with the scandal involving former Economic Revitalization Minister Akira Amari. The opposition is criticizing the party for “turning a deaf ear.”
After his meetings with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and Komeito on Mar. 7, Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima appeared to be annoyed at the LDP, observing that “what’s important is the LDP’s position on the Adams’ method.”
An experts’ panel on the Lower House election system had recommended the adoption of the Adams’ method of distributing seats by prefecture based on the size of the population. Nine political parties, except for the LDP and the Japanese Communist Party, which advocates the abolition of single-seat districts, support this method. The LDP is obviously isolated.
The LDP actually wants to avoid drastic reforms that will result in the reduction of Lower House seats in the regions as much as possible.
With regard to constitutional revision, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to achieve during his term of office, a senior official of the LDP’s coalition partner Komeito commented that “this is nothing but the LDP’s arrogance.” While Abe tried to control damage by stating at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Mar. 7 that “revision of Article 9 of the Constitution still does not enjoy the people’s broad support,” a conservative Diet member close to him remains bullish, claiming “it is a matter of course that revision should be done during his term of office.”
Although the LDP had once made diligent efforts to build a broad consensus with the opposition parties at the Lower House Commission on the Constitution, after the DPJ opposed the security laws for being unconstitutional last summer, it has now leaned toward trying to win a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet required for constitutional amendment by collaborating with Initiatives from Osaka (Osaka Ishin no Kai) and other forces in favor of constitutional revision.
Amari can hardly claim that he has given a full explanation on his “politics and money” scandal. A senior Komeito official pointed out that, “Since (Mr. Amari’s early resignation) was executed so brilliantly, he is now obliged to offer an even better explanation.” The opposition complains that “they probably think there’s no problem because the support rating remains high,” according to a senior DPJ official.
Compared to other parties, the LDP is conspicuously negative about measures to prevent the recurrence of scandals.
However, the opposition is still wary that Kantei (Prime Minister’s Official Residence) may come up with surprises any time before the Upper House election depending on public opinion trends. The situation may change suddenly with one decision by the Prime Minister based on his reading of public opinion. (Abridged)