Diet should promote constructive discussions, not just attack govt

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government is preoccupied with handling scandals, while the opposition parties are preoccupied with criticizing the government. The current situation facing the Diet — which has fallen short of meeting the expectations of the people — must be rectified so that the legislature becomes a place for a constructive battle of words.

Intensive discussions have been held in Budget Committee sessions at both chambers of the Diet in which the opposition parties focused on issues over the establishment of a veterinary science department by school corporation Kake Educational Institution. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his denial of being wrongfully involved in the matter.

Tadao Yanase, a former executive secretary to Abe, told the Diet that he had not reported to the prime minister meetings he had with figures tied to the school corporation three years earlier.

Regarding the opposition’s assertion that it is “unnatural” to have not reported the meetings to the prime minister, Abe said, “I don’t even receive reports about people visiting my secretaries.” He needs to carefully explain all the facts of the case from now on.

The opposition parties have dismissed the prime minister’s assertion that he came to know of the plan to establish the new faculty in January 2017 as a “lie.” They should ask questions based on facts that can be ascertained, so that their questions are not seen as an attempt to manipulate impressions about the prime minister.

There is also a discrepancy between Yanase’s explanations and the assertion of the Ehime prefectural government regarding the meetings, which prefectural officials attended along with officials tied to the school corporation. The establishment of the new department was planned by utilizing the national strategic special zone system for promoting the prime minister’s deregulation initiative. Calm discussions on the issue must be promoted while noting that the scheme might be affected by those discussions.

The prime minister’s stance is partly why the matter has dragged on. Abe is a close friend of the school corporation’s head. The prime minister should have addressed the matter with extreme care and attention, based on the assumption that he could be suspected of being involved.

Abe must uncover truth

The Finance Ministry is proceeding with its probe into an issue over documents that detail the negotiation process for a sale of state land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen. The ministry should properly inspect such issues as the appropriateness of the transaction.

“If there is growing anxiety among the people because my administration has lasted for an extended period, I’d like to act with extra care,” the prime minister said. Sloppiness and arrogance have become conspicuous due to the long rule of his government. The prime minister has a responsibility to uncover the truth behind the suspicions and prevent such a case repeating, thereby creating an environment for Diet deliberations.

There is a little more than a month to go until the close of the current Diet session. Committee discussions on work style reform-related bills are getting into full swing at long last.

To maintain the vitality of society, it is indispensable to correct the practice of long work hours and ensure there are various forms of employment. Measures should be studied to increase the effectiveness of this endeavor, such as giving consideration to small- and midsized corporations.

Committee deliberations have also started on such issues as the approval of the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, which does not include the United States. How should Japan’s economic growth be facilitated under new trade rules? It is important to promote in-depth discussions on the issue.

A summit between North Korea and the United States is close. It is important to analyze the rapidly changing situation and have Japan’s assertions properly reflected in the talks. The opposition parties should also take the initiative to join Diet discussions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 15, 2018)Speech


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