Coming full circle

Back in November, I wrote, “The policy differences between the LDP and the DPJ are too slight for the DPJ to build a campaign on anything other than personality and competence at governing.”

At that point, it was too early to tell just how incompetent the Abe Cabinet would be. But in the seven months since, time and time again Abe has demonstrated his basic inability to manage his cabinet, his government, and his party.

The latest example is, of course, the pension payments scandal. Shisaku provides an excellent breakdown of what exactly this scandal means, and readers will note that the second of his two points is “governmental competence.” That is the proper basis for the DPJ’s resisting the Abe Cabinet’s plans to rush bills reforming the Social Security Agency and lifting the statue of limitations on payments through the Diet, although, as Mr. Shisaku rightly notes, resisting on when the public is demanding action is hard to do.

Will rushing bills through the Diet to quiet the furore prevent this from being an issue in July? Not if the DPJ begins, immediately, to illustrate how on issue after issue the government has failed to conduct policy with a basic amount of competence: the yarase mondai, road tax, the nuclear weapons debate, the feud with the Bank of Japan over interest rates, the various indiscreet remarks of ministers, the national referendum bill, and now the gross mishandling of pension payments. The DPJ should be reminding voters of how many times Prime Minister Abe has had to say something like, “People are saying, ‘I made all my pension contributions dutifully and with all sincerity, and yet now I find I cannot get my full pension.’ Such an outrageous situation is totally unacceptable. My Cabinet will ensure that absolutely no one loses out on their pension payments.” Now there would be an ad (although, alas, negative campaigning is nonexistent): simply a video compilation of all of Abe’s apologies for gross mistakes made by his government, with a cameo or two from Ministers Yanagisawa, Kyuma, Aso, and, of course, Mr. Nakagawa.

Meanwhile, going back to Ampontan’s post earlier this week, if Japanese voters simply vote their pocketbooks, I wonder what higher tax bills from June onward will mean for the July elections. I mean, that’s the reason why all discussion of the consumption tax has been postponed until autumn, right?

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