Happy New Year!
The beginning of 2013 sees the start of a new government in Japan and a new orientation for the country, which makes me feel very expectant indeed. Three years ago the Democratic Party of Japan took over the reins of government. The people, including myself, had great dreams and hopes at that time. But the DPJ’s management of the administration was extremely naïve and the outcome was terrible, plunging national life down to the abyss. I have been unable to contain my anger at the fact that more than 30,000 people suffering hardships were taking their own lives every year. Thankfully, the tide has turned.
The main issue in last month’s general election, I believe, was economic recovery. People have to make a living, after all. A situation in which people simply cannot make a living has gone on for far too long. Companies are unable to maintain jobs if their growth strategies remain deadlocked, and businesses themselves have been trapped on all sides. First of all, therefore, it is necessary to rebuild people’s lives and then, when there is leeway to think about the future, turn to other issues, such as nuclear power.
The previous government’s indifferent attitude to recovery and reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, also made me very angry. Government ministries and agencies fought over the reconstruction budget, and as a result little progress has been made at all nearly two years after the disaster.
Although people understand only to well that life in the disaster area has reached breaking point and that it is the duty of the government to restore normal life there as soon as possible, the previous government just wasted time in a completely nonchalant manner. The election results were the outcome of the voters’ critical view of the government’s stance on this matter.
As I had forecast, the voters naturally rejected the unreliable DPJ. In what must be a rare case in the political history of a developed nation, the ruling party saw its number of seats in the House of Representatives shrink to around 20% of its previous presence. If nothing else, the election results made me keenly aware how reliable, upright, robust, and forward-looking Japanese voters are. The members of the DPJ who were elected have been talking about “rebuilding” the party, but voters are not going to allow them to get away so easily. They are fed up and will probably talk about it way into the next generation.
The same can be said of the side that won in a landslide. It was extremely good medicine for them to have dropped into the opposition three years ago. But even if they think it is going to be plain sailing for the next four years and beyond, the awakened voters do not see it that way. The victors must be unpretentious in their success. In other words, precisely at a time when everything is going well, they must act prudently and cautiously. If they get carried away and betray the voters, they will suffer again in the next election.
First of all, the new government should set about rebuilding the economy, promoting employment, and protecting the people’s lives by legitimate means. It must mount a blitzkrieg to reconstruct the disaster area and deal with the nuclear power plant accident. These were the core issues underlying last month’s election. For that reason, the government should also review the timing for implementation of the consumption tax hike. Regarding nuclear power, a national campaign has been launched, so the new government should tread carefully here. The people are opposed to bureaucratic control as well, so it should take appropriate steps on this measure. The people will be vigilantly watching to see whether the government can tackle these issues.
At the beginning of 2013, I am grateful to be a little more hopeful than before. I hope that it is a good year for you all, too.