The Yomiuri Shimbun(Sep. 17, 2009)
Take the right direction toward change
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's new administration got up and running Wednesday, though public sentiment seems split between expectation and anxiety over the nation's political future.
Members of the new Cabinet should not allow themselves to feel any exhilaration over the birth of this historic government.
Confusion caused by the transfer of power also must be avoided, as the new government will have to tackle such urgent issues as pulling the nation out of the global recession, designing the future of the social security system and developing a new strategic foreign policy. To achieve tangible results, all of these tasks must be conducted at full power.
Be flexible over manifesto vows
The public is expecting the new Cabinet to change the Liberal Democratic Party's style of politics, which had hit an impasse. This desire for change was made clear by the results of the recent House of Representatives election.
However, people also are concerned that excessive changes might lead to problems. The new Cabinet should take a levelheaded approach to continuing the basic policies of its predecessors with regard to the future course of the nation.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan should not cling too tenaciously to the pledges it made for the lower house election. People who voted the DPJ into power do not necessarily support all of these promises.
There also are some public doubts as to whether financial resources can be secured for many of the DPJ manifesto pledges and whether some of these pledges are really feasible, including a child-allowance system, toll-free expressways and targets for cutting the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. According to opinion polls, more people than not oppose many of these election vows.
The DPJ apparently is keen to avoid criticism for breaking its promises. However, it would be even worse for the DPJ to fall into an election-pledge trap of its own making, which could cause irreversible damage. It is vital for the party to have the courage to reexamine its pledges and revise those in need of improvement.
In the new Cabinet, DPJ Acting President Naoto Kan became deputy prime minister and national strategy minister, and former DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada assumed the post of foreign minister.
Hirohisa Fujii, the party's top adviser, was appointed finance minister, while former DPJ President Seiji Maehara was named construction and transport minister.
Hatoyama apparently has taken the power balance of intraparty groups into consideration and placed people who have proven themselves in the past in important posts.
Though the makeup of the new Cabinet seems solid, it seems to lack a certain freshness.
At a press conference held in the evening, Hatoyama underscored his intention to end the practice of excessive government dependence on bureaucrats with regard to policy-making.
Key to his success will be the national strategy bureau and the administrative renewal council, to be administered by Kan and Administrative Renewal Minister Yoshito Sengoku, respectively.