DPFP must Make Realistic Proposals to Show Presence in Diet Debates

The question is how this opposition party will demonstrate its presence while sticking to its stance of placing priority on policy matters.

The Democratic Party for the People has held its leadership election and party leader Yuichiro Tamaki will continue to run the party after defeating House of Councillors member Takae Ito. “I would like to firmly advance our position as a reformist, centrist party,” Tamaki said.

Since its foundation in 2018, the DPFP has put forward the view of “resolution before confrontation” while engaging the government in policy debates.

As a measure against the novel coronavirus, the party proposed to the government at an early stage providing businesses with subsidies for rent payments. The party also once challenged the government to debate in the Diet issues focusing on the Japan-U.S. alliance and negotiations on the northern territories.

However, the party failed to gain strength. In September, many DPFP members left to join the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which also arose from the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan. There used to be more than 60 Diet members in the DPFP, but now there are only 16 in the House of Representatives and House of Councillors.

Even after becoming a smaller party, it is important for the DPFP to repeatedly make constructive proposals. Tamaki’s role is to steadily broaden support for the DPFP, instead of focusing solely on being critical.

If a healthy opposition party gains sufficient abilities to be able to take over the reins of government, it will likely bring a sense of urgency to politics.

During his party leader campaign, Tamaki pledged to exempt those under 30 from income tax and residential tax to enrich the livelihoods of young people. He expressed the view of increasing the burden on high-income earners and the wealthy elderly to make up for the drop in tax revenues.

However, he has avoided giving clear explanations about how much wealthy people would be asked to shoulder. Concrete, convincing proposals are essential. With regard to economic policies, Tamaki needs to present an effective growth strategy to increase tax revenues.

The DPFP has held more than a dozen intraparty discussions on constitutional revision and has announced issues to sort out for the revision.

In relation to the Constitution’s Article 13, which stipulates respect for individuals and the right to pursue happiness, the party proposed that cyberspace should be covered as well, with society’s digitization in mind. The party probably wants to draw up a constitutional image that fits the new age in which tech giants have influence.

Regarding Article 9, the party proposed that it should stipulate the Self-Defense Forces as the “minimum required force.” The party also proposed that the article should stipulate the scope of the use of the self-defense right, having in mind a limited right to collective self-defense.

It is commendable that the party systematically presented its view on the direction of constitutional revision.

The Liberal Democratic Party has already compiled a draft of four articles, including one stipulating the SDF. Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) has proposed making education free. The parties have a number of ideas in common related to their awareness of issues connected to the Constitution.

Based on these proposals, the commissions on the Constitution of both chambers of the Diet should deepen discussions on constitutional revision. It is important for the ruling and opposition parties to cooperate to continuously discuss how the nation’s supreme law should be updated.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Dec. 20, 2020.