Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda needs to restore unity within the DPJ
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Democratic Party of Japan elected Yoshihiko Noda to be the new leader of Japan and this was ratified on August 30 by parliament. In the early period he may find respite from petty squabbling within the factional based system in Japan because factionalism blights the DPJ and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). However, in order for the DPJ to regain trust then unity is essential and sound economic policies must follow but this will not be easy given the political reality of Japan.
Yoshihiko Noda needs to focus on economic initiatives and reconstruction for the damaged areas of Japan which were hit by the deadly earthquake and tsunami. At the same time he needs to rebuild or to at least show unity within the DPJ instead of factionalism appearing to dominate and political bigwigs need to be constrained. The new prime minister also needs to work out a new supplementary budget and in the upper house Yoshihiko Noda needs to persuade some opposition parties to get on board and support his plans.
The new leader of Japan is known for being very conservative when it comes to fiscal policies and given Japan’s enormous public debt then is not such a bad thing. However, in order to push through major economic measures he needs to build consensus within the DPJ and to show the electorate that the new leader does have a clear objective and that he will work hard to reign in discontent.
The strong yen is another area of major concern and the same applies to the deflationary malaise. Also, Yoshihiko Noda should dip into the enormous reserves of Japan in order to utilize these funds because events after March 11 have created a major economic headache. At the same time, the new leader must focus on energy related issues and the nuclear factor must not be destroyed based on political short-sightedness. Therefore, real radical change needs to be thought out deeply before dismantling a very strong source of energy.
The main party bigwig within the DPJ, Ozawa, needs to be told bluntly that he can’t hold a gun to the head of the elected leader of the DPJ when the going gets tough. Also, it is hoped that Yoshihiko Noda’s decision to elect Azuma Koshiishi to be the secretary general is a sign of mending fences and not weakness towards Ozawa.
The sad reality is that while Yoshihiko Noda may have a genuine reform program in the offing he may be constrained by his balancing act of creating a consensus hierarchy of political rivals within the upper echelons of the proposed new cabinet. This in itself shows you the weakness of his position at the moment but surely members of the DPJ must realize that they are on borrowed time if they turn against their own leader once more. After all, the electorate is becoming disenchanted with petty infighting.
The taxation issue is complex because you have divisions within the DPJ about tax hikes but many also understand that more revenue is needed and the LDP may not be so problematic on this issue. However, smaller opposition parties have a different view about this alongside individuals within the DPJ and LDP – therefore, taxation policies will be closely monitored and scrutinized depending on the seriousness of Yoshihiko Noda’s economic reforms.
Yoshihiko Noda fully understands that the honeymoon period will be short within the DPJ if factionalism can’t be contained. Also, he knows full well that the honeymoon period with the electorate will nose dive based on past history. However, despite all the shortcomings, it is time for the new leader of Japan to take the bull by the horns and to focus on neglected issues and to help in the reconstruction of Japan.