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Resignation of Inada, Renho reflects administration’s arrogance, DP’s incompetence

  • July 28, 2017
  • , Nikkei , p. 3
  • JMH Translation
  • ,

By Eiji Sakamoto, senior writer

 

The sudden resignation of Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and Democratic Party (DP) President Renho arouses concern that politics may go adrift again. Even when under a barrage of criticism, they could not decide on the time to step down, and there were no senior officials to give them advice. The arrogance of an entrenched administration and the incompetence of a weak opposition party aggravate worries about the fate of the two-party system.

 

The immediate reason for Inada’s resignation was the controversy over the Self-Defense Forces’ daily activity logs in South Sudan, an issue that surfaced six months ago. During this time, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had persisted in protecting Inada.

 

The attempt to put off her replacement until the cabinet reshuffle on Aug. 3 ended up aggravating criticism against the administration. Discussions on security went nowhere while North Korea repeatedly fired ballistic missiles and the revision of Article 9 of the Constitution was emerging as an issue.

 

None of the leading administration officials talked to Abe about replacing this minister who was appointed according to his wish. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet members merely talked behind Inada’s back about her lack of ability as a cabinet minister.

 

It is puzzling why the DP president’s resignation came at this time. Renho had talked enthusiastically about rebuilding the party after the DP’s debacle in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election on July 2. She made public on July 18 documents proving she had given up dual citizenship.

 

For sure, since Renho assumed the presidency last September, she has failed to make good on her pledge to make the DP a party capable of proposing alternative policies. She had to give priority to averting conflict in the party, failing to project the party’s policies in the process.

 

A political party is not merely a mutual aid society for elections. It would have been more convincing if a change of leadership had come after a debate on policy line. As it is, the new leadership will now have to start another policy debate from scratch.

 

Since 2007, the Japanese government had changed hands six times, once every year. Although Abe has enjoyed overwhelming political dominance since the second Abe cabinet was launched in December 2012, the administration’s fate is now uncertain with the recent dive in its support ratings.

 

The increase in unaffiliated voters in the recent Tokyo assembly election was the expression of the voters’ strong discontent with the arrogance of an entrenched administration and the opposition parties’ failure to represent the voters’ criticism. Japan is in trouble if both the two major political parties sink. (Slightly abridged)

 

 

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