The most important task is to restore the vitality of the nation by paving the way for bringing the coronavirus under control. The Liberal Democratic Party should fulfill its mission as a ruling party with humility.
The LDP held its annual party convention. Concerning the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister and LDP President Yoshihide Suga said emphatically at the event, “I’m determined to bring the coronavirus situation under control as soon as possible and restore safe, active daily life.”
To contain the spread of coronavirus infections from now on, it is important that the central and local governments, those involved in medical care services and others work together to facilitate comprehensive measures to control the pandemic. The prime minister’s leadership will be tested.
This was the LDP’s first party convention in two years. The LDP took measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as limiting participants mainly to Diet members and allowing local representatives to participate online. It needs to compile a wide range of opinions from local assembly members and rank-and-file party members, and make use of these opinions in its policies.
The party’s campaign policies stipulate that “a stable political foundation is essential to pave the way for the future,” stressing that the party would accelerate its efforts for the next House of Representatives election.
The term of office for lower house lawmakers expires in October, and an election will be held by autumn. The LDP has continued to win national elections since returning to power in 2012. However, complacency has emerged within the party about the current political structure, in which the LDP is the predominant force. The party should be more alert and listen to public criticism.
Within the LDP, a series of scandals have come to light that illustrate a lack of understanding of proper behavior. They include violations of the Public Offices Election Law by former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his wife, and a bribe-taking case involving former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Takamori Yoshikawa.
It is inexcusable that the party is trying to pull a political curtain on these scandals, by only having the lawmakers in question leave the LDP or resign from the Diet. As the party president, it is an urgent task for the prime minister to maintain strict discipline and work to regain public trust.
Six months have passed since the Suga Cabinet was inaugurated. Despite losing the strong support it had at one point, there are signs of its approval rating recovering as the number of coronavirus cases declines.
With the opposition parties undeniably lacking in strength, the public seems to be taking a hard look at the prime minister’s ability to implement policies.
As his signature policies, Suga has touted the digitization of administrative services and decarbonization aimed at emitting no greenhouse gases.
It is understandable that these policies are aimed at creating new growth industries, but they are all policies that need mid- and long-term measures. Suga must tenaciously proceed with these policies while examining the challenges involved, so that they do not end up as mere slogans.
The prime minister’s reluctance to address fiscal reconstruction and social security reform is disappointing. Amid the intensifying U.S.-China conflict, it is also important for him to clearly state Japan’s future foreign policies in his own words.
The ruling and opposition parties have agreed to reach a conclusion in the current Diet session regarding a bill to revise the National Referendum Law, which stipulates the procedures for amending the Constitution. The LDP should accelerate talks with opposition parties and make efforts to pass the revision bill soon.
— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on March 23, 2021.