The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 29, 2010)
Censures a devastating blow to Kan Cabinet
参院問責可決 一段と追い込まれた菅政権(11月28日付・読売社説)

Censure motions against Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku and transport minister Sumio Mabuchi have been submitted to the House of Councillors and adopted with the support of opposition parties, which form a majority there. The motions criticize Sengoku and Mabuchi's mishandling of the fallout from the collisions between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard vessels off the Senkaku Islands in September.

The motions are not legally binding, but three lawmakers in the past against whom censure motions were adopted, including former Prime Minister Taro Aso, ultimately had to resign. There is no doubt the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan now faces an even tougher predicament.

The censure motion submitted by the Liberal Democratic Party against Sengoku harshly criticizes the decision not to disclose video of the collisions recorded by the JCG, in addition to the questionable process by which prosecutors ordered the Chinese fishing boat captain's release from custody.

In the case of Mabuchi, the motion pointed out his supervisory responsibility for the JCG's sloppy information management system, which allowed the video to be leaked onto the Internet.

They are both fair points. It is clear that Sengoku and Mabuchi bear political responsibility for the collision incident.

Standoff and stagnation

Kan stressed he would have the two remain in their posts. He is apparently concerned that the administration's foundations would be damaged if Sengoku, who occupies the Cabinet's command post, were made to resign.

However, significant stagnation in national politics is inevitable. There is of course no prospect of passing legislation during the remainder of the current extraordinary Diet session--or even in the ordinary Diet sessions next year--given that not only the LDP but also New Komeito have distanced themselves from the government and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi warned, "If they [Sengoku and Mabuchi] make light of the weight carried by the censure motions and continue their poor handling of issues, the motions will have long-term ramifications."

Opposition parties appear to be refraining from taking part in deliberations at Diet committees where Sengoku and Mabuchi are in attendance. It is inexcusable that opposition parties would abuse their position and employ such tactics because Sengoku and Mabuchi remain in their posts, but Kan should take to heart the harsh reality of the divided Diet.

Diet has accomplished little

Before the censure motions were approved, the supplementary budget for fiscal 2010--incorporating more than 4.8 trillion yen worth of measures to deal with the rising yen and deflation--passed the Diet. However, only about a third of the bills submitted by the government have so far passed the Diet. We cannot help but say the current Diet session has produced few noteworthy achievements other than the supplementary budget.

Both ruling and opposition parities have a responsibility to avoid stagnation in national politics as a result of the divided Diet. However, it is the government and DPJ that must make additional efforts toward this end.

In particular, it is impermissible for the government and DPJ to close the current Diet session without summoning former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa to testify before the Diet over his money and politics scandal.

Kan should exercise leadership, rather than leave to DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada the task of persuading Ozawa to testify before the Diet. Kan would be totally in the wrong if he calculated it would be acceptable to just let the current Diet session expire, using the excuse of the confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties following the adoption of the censure motions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 28, 2010)
(2010年11月28日01時41分  読売新聞)