It is necessary for Komeito to take all possible measures against the infectious disease and at the same time address long-term challenges. The party is urged to be aware of its responsibility as a ruling party and steadily carry out its policies.
Komeito, the Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner, held a party convention and approved the seventh term of its leader Natsuo Yamaguchi. Keiichi Ishii, deputy secretary general, was promoted to the post of secretary general, while House of Representatives member Yuzuru Takeuchi was appointed chairman of the Policy Research Council. The lineup is apparently aimed at promoting a generational change ahead of the next lower house election and nurturing Ishii as a candidate for next party leader.
Yamaguchi said that the party would do its best to support the Suga Cabinet, which is expediting reforms from the viewpoint of the people. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was at the convention as a guest, stated that he applauds from the heart Komeito’s political position of reflecting the voice of the people.
Since Komeito joined the coalition in 1999, the LDP and Komeito have cooperated in Diet management and election campaigns for 21 years. The two parties need to utilize political stability to promote their policies, without falling into a rut.
When the Suga Cabinet was inaugurated, the two parties compiled a written agreement on their coalition government. It stipulated that they would do their utmost to fight the novel coronavirus, and restore the economy to a growth path.
From now on, it is necessary for them to promote a wide range of policies in a balanced manner, including support for medical institutions, expansion of testing systems, securing employment, and fostering growth industries. It is essential for the government and ruling parties to work together to respond swiftly to the coronavirus and the economy.
A lack of coordination has been revealed as to measures against the coronavirus under the administration of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The initial plan to provide ¥300,000 to households whose income was declining was changed to a uniform provision of ¥100,000 per person in line with Komeito’s proposal.
The government’s response to the Go To Travel tourism promotion program changed repeatedly as well.
The political confusion has amplified public anxiety. Wasn’t there a problem with the way policy consultations were conducted?
Suga has strong connections with Soka Gakkai, Komeito’s main support base. Some point out that Suga’s stance of attaching importance to the feelings of the people, such as by lowering mobile phone charges, is similar to that of Komeito’s.
However, the ruling parties will not be able to fulfill their responsibility if they merely come up with policies that can be easily accepted by most of the people. It is also important for them to make efforts to build a consensus on issues that require self-sacrifice, such as fiscal reconstruction and reform of the social security system, and win the understanding of the public.
They also must not avoid discussions on important policies concerning the fundamentals of the nation.
The government intends to compile a security policy by the end of this year that will focus on strengthening the missile defense system. In recent years, North Korea and China have developed their new missiles and improved their launching technology. Komeito also has a responsibility to squarely face the severe security environment and engage in constructive discussions.
Concerning constitutional revision, Komeito has called for adding provisions to the Constitution. The party should vitalize the commissions on the Constitution in both chambers of the Diet by deepening discussions within the party.
— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sept. 29, 2020.