The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 22, 2012)
LDP's boycott of Diet deliberations unreasonable
2閣僚問責可決 自民の審議拒否は無理がある(4月21日付・読売社説)

The House of Councillors passed censure motions against Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Takeshi Maeda and Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka by majority votes at its plenary session on Friday.

This raised to six the total number of Cabinet ministers censured in the 2-1/2 years since the Democratic Party of Japan took power.

Even if adopted, a censure motion in the upper house has no legally binding power, unlike no-confidence motions in the House of Representatives. Under the banner of the nonbinding censure motions, however, the opposition parties are demanding Maeda and Tanaka be replaced.

Such a malady, which is possible only in a divided Diet, should be rooted out.

The attitude of the Liberal Democratic Party is particularly problematic. The main opposition party has said it will boycott all deliberations until Maeda and Tanaka resign.

The LDP apparently expects Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to agree to Maeda and Tanaka's dismissal, since he seeks the party's cooperation in enacting the bill to raise the consumption tax rate.

While in power, however, the LDP criticized opposition parties that boycotted Diet deliberations as "walking out on lawmakers' jobs." Has the LDP forgotten what it said?


Futile conflict

It would not be so serious if the LDP boycotted deliberations at the final stage of the Diet session. However, the session is still only halfway completed and has a mountain of important bills to deliberate. Even some members of the party, including former LDP Secretary General Makoto Koga, have voiced doubt over the decision to boycott deliberations.

New Komeito said it would boycott deliberations only at committees that Maeda and Tanaka have jurisdiction over. The opposition parties' failure to move in step with one another shows the LDP's decision to boycott all Diet deliberations is unreasonable.

In the past, the DPJ took advantage of censure motions many times. Even if the LDP returns to power in the next lower house election, it and Komeito still will not have a majority of seats at the upper house. The DPJ will likely take revenge in the same fashion. Such a futile conflict should not be repeated.

The prime minister has expressed his intention to keep Maeda and Tanaka at their posts. Noda apparently believes the LDP will have no choice but to return to deliberations if public criticism mounts against their boycott. It is like an endurance contest.


Maeda, Tanaka problematic

However, it is undeniable there are serious problems with Maeda and Tanaka.

Maeda signed a document calling for support of a particular candidate in the mayoral election in Gero, Gifu Prefecture, and sent it in an official envelope to a senior member of a local association of construction companies.

The censure motion against him claimed Maeda should not stay at his post because his action violated the Public Offices Election Law, which prohibits preelection campaigning as well as using the influence of one's official position in an election.

Meanwhile, the censure motion against Tanaka referred to turmoil caused by the government's response to North Korea's ballistic missile launch as "a fiasco that cannot be overlooked."

It also said Tanaka is "not nearly qualified" to be defense minster because he has made many mistakes, including his unprofessional responses to questions at the Diet.

It is imperative to hold Noda responsible for appointing Tanaka to the post.

Tanaka is the second censured defense minister in the Noda Cabinet, following Yasuo Ichikawa. Noda has been too naive in his choice of ministers in charge of national security.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 21, 2012)
(2012年4月21日01時41分  読売新聞)