02/23/2011 Challenging Kan’s Leadership (and Political Stance)

(Chairman) Mr. Yasuo Tanaka, please take the podium.

(Yasuo Tanaka) The Japanese society is rapidly graying and the birthrate is alarmingly low. This situation is unprecedented.

To overcome these challenges, it’s critically important for Japan to set aside its past successful experiences and fundamentally change its mindset, choices and its system. Profound philosophy and an unwavering sense of determination are strongly called for the leadership.

Mr. Naoto Kan who bears the responsibility gave his word of honor at the budget committee two days ago. He said, ‘Getting the job done, that’s what’s required of a strong leader.’

Mr. Kan was responding to Mr. Tsutomu Takebe of the LDP who asked him if he was only trying to cling to power.

Mr. Kan also said he doesn’t believe, trying to look good will make him a strong leader.’

You are perfectly right, Mr. Prime Minister. But then, tell me what you think needs to be done, without clinging to power or trying to look good?

I laid out three key issues during the representative questioning, at the budget debate and during the Q&A. I repeat them again.

First, no country has ever succeeded in boosting its economy by raising taxes. Increasing not taxes but revenues is a mission for any statesman to pursue.

But Mr. Kan has broken the promise he made when his party achieved a change of government. And he is now rushing headlong to raising taxes!

Secondly, TPP is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Trojan horse, because it will force Japan to renounce its tariff autonomy. I call for the signing of ETA or EPA with other trading countries instead. However, during yesterday’s diet hearing, a witness representing Rengo, whose subscription rate is as low as the government’s low approval rating of 18 percent, said he definitely supports the tax increase and TPP, when answering to my question. He is on the same boat with the DPJ.

Thirdly, Mr. Kan proudly talked about reforming Social Security to make it ‘viable for the next 20 years and longer.’ But Japan’s population will drop to 110 million, down 17 million in 20 years’ time. Just the fine-tuning of the pension system won’t ever make up for the future shortfalls. Introducing Basic Income should be the key solution.

Incidentally, getting the job done without trying to look good is nothing to brag about and I need to ask this to Mr. Seiji Maehara, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport minister and the Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Minister, who is also the Foreign Minister.

Your judgmental errors in dealing with the Japan Airlines, Yamba Dam, the Senkaku spat and the northern territorial disputes are serious as they undermine the national interest and for which you deserve to be severely criticized for, by violating the Product Liability Law. But these incident continue happening all the time since the change of government 18 months ago.

All-mouth, empty promises without producing results can cause chaos on the ground. Employees will be exhausted and the people will be hurt. Knowing well there are other airlines, bullet trains, expressways and even ferries, you still made a very emotional remark. You said ‘I will make sure not a single day passes without JAL flying over the sky.’ You injected a colossal amount of taxpayer money to a private firm which doesn’t even know how to put its house in order.

The construction of the main body of Yanmba Dam was yet to start. You should have transferred the road construction budget from the river bureau to the road bureau which originally should have the jurisdiction. You should have acted immediately after assuming the ministerial post. You should have reviewed the fictitious formula of calculating the basic flood discharge to replace them with new flood-control measures.

I had already asked you at the budget committee about your overbearing discourse and wimpy indecisiveness in dealing with the disputes over the Senkaku islands and the northern territories.

There’s more. When a massive earthquake hit New Zealand yesterday, you proudly offered to transport the families of the Japanese victims aboard a government jet. But unfortunately, a short while ago, a senior Foreign Ministry official dismissed that possibility, saying it’s difficult because the plane may be overloaded.

I believe good decent people across Japan want the government to break the current political impasse. A plastic leader who superficially talks about a generational change or who only sells fresh image is the last thing they need. The people deserve better. I believe they are longing for a matured statesman with profound philosophy and an unwavering sense of determination. I ask Mr. Maehara to comment on this.

(Chairman) Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, please take the podium.

You only have less than one minute to respond.

(Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara) Mr. Tanaka is saying various things about the JAL’s revival plans, but I believe I made the right decision and things are going well and we must make them go well.

As for Yamba Dam…I’ve been serving as Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister over the past one year. If I’m allowed to keep my post, I will definitely find a conclusion on this issue. I think I share the same opinion with Mr. Tanaka on this. I believe I’m right about drastically changing our mindset on public works projects and the method of containing the floodwaters in a concrete structure and discharging them to sea. I think I’m right on this and the job needs to be done.

As for the dispute over northern islands, my lifetime commitment to finding a solution to this issue has never changed, because that’s what motivated me to pursue my political career. At any rate, I also agree with Mr. Tanaka about a perception ‘words of a politician carry great weight.’ I’d like to share the sense of responsibility and continue making efforts.

(chairman) This concludes the questioning by Mr. Tanaka.