The DPJ steps back again

Days after an agreement that resulted in the government’s momentarily backing away from plans to extend the gas surcharge temporarily, Yamaoka Kenji, the DPJ’s Kokutai chairman, has provided a reminder of just how precarious the agreement is. Mr. Yamaoka warned that if the government moves on the legislation in the HR before “thorough debate” — whatever thorough means in this case — there will be no possibility of a vote in the HC before the end of the fiscal year. Mr. Yamaoka also challenged the government to adhere to the pledge to move road funding to the general fund made under Prime Ministers Koizumi and Abe.

At the same time, on Saturday morning, Kan Naoto suggested that the DPJ is willing to be flexible in working out a compromise bill with the government.

How many times does the DPJ have to stake out an inflexible position, complete with hyper-charged rhetoric, before backing down in the face of the government’s determination to get its way? It would have been far better off staking its opposition largely on the colossal misuse of the funds — yet another example of how the LDP has misgoverned Japan — from the beginning, and challenging the government, whose backers continually claim that the DPJ is standing in the way of resolving important policy challenges, to use these earmarked funds for other, more important policies.

Yet another example, I think, of a certain lack of nimbleness on the part of Mr. Ozawa.

I hope, though, that MTC is right and that the DPJ’s agreement with the government means that at the very least this means the end of channeling the revenue from the temporary tax into road construction.

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