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Editorial: Ruling parties received strong support to overcome national crisis

The people gave a strong support to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for overcoming pressing national crises such as the threat posed by North Korea and the issue of the declining birthrate and aging population.

 

In the 48th House of Representatives election held yesterday, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito party won a great victory, securing a stable number of seats in the Lower House to continue managing the government.

 

On the opposition side before the election, the largest Democratic Party was disbanded, resulting in the formation of new parties including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and Party of Hope, but they presented neither a clear axis of confrontation among them nor concrete measures to overcome the national crises; thus, they were unable to gain sufficient support from the public.

 

Don’t hesitate to amend Article 9 of the Constitution

 

Now that PM Abe has solidified his political base, he needs to swiftly move on to the task of concretizing his policies. The first task he needs to address is the issue of North Korea.

 

During the election campaign, North Korea did not take provocative actions. However, in its recent statement, the country referred to a “surprise attack against a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.” The DPRK seems to have no intention to abandon its nuclear and missile weapons.

 

PM Abe and the ruling parties called for enhancing diplomatic efforts including increasing pressure on North Korea during the election campaign. However, the government needs to move a step closer to urgently preparing measures to protect the people in the event of a contingency.

 

Important diplomatic events will take place in November, including Donald Trump’s first visit to Japan as president, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference and the East Asia Summit. In order to prod North Korea, which maintains a tough-stance, to change its mind, it will be necessary to further increase pressure on the country.

 

In the upcoming Japan-U.S. summit, it is important for the two leaders to discuss concrete measures to strengthen the deterrence capability of the alliance including cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the U.S. military and the nuclear umbrella.

 

The two leaders also need to decide how the two countries could quickly evacuate non-combatants such as Japanese citizens, Americans and other foreign citizens in South Korea in the event of a contingency, a measure called non-combatant evacuation (NEO), as well as how the countries would respond to armed refugees.

 

We also want PM Abe to make political decisions to allow Japan to possess the capability to attack enemy bases and to increase the defense budget in addition to improving the missile defense capability. These decisions should also include a measure to respond to provocative actions by China, which is increasing its hegemonic stance.

 

The SDF and the Japan-U.S. alliance have maintained peace and security since the war. However, Article 9 of the Constitution has restricted the SDF’s activities, thus limiting its measures to protect the public.

 

The people’s resolution to defend Japan must be the basis of security. One effective measure to achieve such resolution would be a national referendum on the amendment of the Constitution; thereby, explicitly writing the SDF into the supreme law. This would certainly help improve Japan’s deterrent capability, so the LDP should persistently emphasize this point to the public.

 

PM Abe and the LDP should continue making efforts to fulfill their campaign pledge to revise the Constitution. To realize this, the prime minister and the LDP need not only to urge cooperation from the coalition partner Komeito but also to accelerate discussions with opposition parties, which support the constitutional amendment.

 

Present the whole picture of social security system reform

 

There can be no postponing dealing with another national crisis – the issue of low birthrate and aging population. The government is required to take measures to decelerate the problematic situation in which the population keeps declining due to the low birthrate while the age structure of society is extremely skewing toward the elderly.

 

During the election campaign, both the LDP and Komeito party only emphasized the introduction of free education and free day care but failed to present a big picture on how the two parties will reform the social structure. Although the ruling parties call for building a multi-generation social security system, simply increasing the budget for policies related to children’s affairs would not be an effective way to achieve the goal.

 

To achieve the goal, the government needs to thoroughly eliminate wasteful spending in the existing system. We want the administration to swiftly draw a grand design for a comprehensive reform of the social security and tax systems.

 

Although the ruling parties call for free education, they did not present specific measures to achieve the goal.

 

For example, the Komeito party even referred to tuition free education at private high schools. The party also mentioned moving forward with measures to create institutions where 320,000 children on the waiting list for day care centers will be accommodated. How could the party obtain the operational costs for the new institutions before the consumption tax hike?

 

Prime Minister Abe judged that the consumption tax hike would be necessary for dealing with the issue of low birthrate and aging population. He needs to effectively use the two years until the next tax hike to 10% and make an all-out effort to build a strong economy that can endure the hike.

 

The current economic situation seems to increasingly point to a recovery, but at the same time, the administration needs to acknowledge the fact that it is undeniable that the people are not feeling a solid sense of such recovery. We want the government to steadfastly build the foundation for economic growth in which companies and households can envision a bright future.

 

There is no time for the government and the ruling parties to exult in their victory. They need to constantly be aware of guiding the country in rough seas where there is no room for mismanagement.

 

 

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