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Editorial: Upcoming Diet session must promote essential debates on future outlook

  • September 30, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 7:38 p.m.
  • English Press

An extraordinary Diet session will soon be convened, setting the stage for a full-scale battle of words. How should problems facing the nation both at home and abroad be dealt with?


Opposition parties should come to grips with the details of policy measures in Diet discussions, instead of doing nothing but criticizing the government.


One of the focuses in question-and-answer sessions is a new trade agreement reached between Japan and the United States. The government is set to submit an approval proposal to the Diet.


The two nations arrived at the conclusion that cuts in tariffs to be imposed on U.S. beef and pork imports will not exceed the levels set under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact.


This was a result of efforts to look for a realistic compromise through negotiations with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which has continued to exert pressure on partner countries for the purpose of protecting domestic industries.


How will domestic farming households be affected? What kinds of measures should be taken to deal with the situation? Calmly examining these issues is indispensable.


Preventing the spread of protectionism and maintaining the free trade system contribute to Japan’s national interests. It is also essential to exchange opinions about what the nation’s trade policies should be like, such as increasing the number of TPP participating nations and establishing other economic blocs.


The social security system will become another focus. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has released the results of inspections regarding the health of pension financing. If the economy favorably grows, it will be possible to maintain the benefit-payment levels for the model household comparable to 50 percent of the average income earned by working men.


Opposition parties have said that preconditions set for the test calculation are too optimistic. It is important to carefully explain how assumptions have been made for the calculation, including an outlook for economic growth.


Opposition must improve


The decrease in the number of children and aging population is rapidly progressing. It is safe to say that maintaining economic vitality in the medium-to-long term and establishing a sustainable social security system is exactly an essential task to be tackled.


It is vital to effectively promote measures covering a wide range of areas, such as expanding employment for elderly people and improving the substance of child-rearing support.


The government needs to show its measures’ course of action and objectives in an easy-to-understand manner. It will be possible to improve the quality of Diet discussions if the opposition camp points a finger at the problems involved and presents their alternatives.


Advancing debates on issues related to the Constitution is also a task to be addressed in the extraordinary Diet session. Antipathy persists among the opposition parties toward debating such issues under the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which is positive about constitutional amendment.


The legislative branch of government has a role to play in continuing to debate how the supreme law should function. The Diet must resume discussions related to the main part of the Constitution after swiftly adopting a bill to revise the National Referendum Law, which includes such items as the establishment of communal polling stations.


Opposition parties, such as the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP), are set to form allied blocs in both chambers of the legislature before attending the upcoming extraordinary Diet meeting.


They will come under criticism from the public if they continue finding fault with what Cabinet members have said, abandoning the task of promoting policy debates.


It is essential for them to adjust the details of their respective policies within their allied blocs and closely examine the substance of their questions. The opposition camp needs to adopt a positive stance toward improving the quality of question-and-answer sessions while also enhancing its ability to keep watch on administrative management.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 30, 2019)

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