Prime minister must solidify footing to guide administration out of morass

Insufficient coordination between the government and the Liberal Democratic Party has manifested as frayed handling of the administration. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida should work to regain a solid footing.

The LDP has revised its governance code. The party presented a policy of severing ties with organizations that are noted as being socially problematic, with the Unification Church in mind.

The prime minister has faced harsh questioning in the Diet as links between LDP lawmakers and the church, officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, have come to light one after another. Stressing a policy of severing ties is probably aimed at breaking through this predicament.

With an eye on next spring’s unified local elections, the LDP leadership has also told its prefectural chapters to comply with the code. The party will be tested over whether it can ensure that its more than 10,000 local assembly members across the country abide by the code.

In its notice to the local chapters, the LDP called on them not to participate in meetings related to the Unification Church, or to receive organized campaign support or financial assistance from the group.

However, the LDP’s local organizations have complained, saying it is difficult to understand what kind of relationship is problematic. Asking candidates and supporters whether they are followers could invite criticism that it is an infringement of religious freedom.

The government and the ruling and opposition parties should work together to strictly deal with antisocial activities of the Unification Church, but issues of spirituality should be handled separately.

In the unified local elections, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), which has gained ground in elections for both houses of the Diet, may compete with the LDP for conservative votes. How the upcoming elections turn out could have a significant impact on national politics.

In the Diet, the government and ruling parties have been conspicuously inept.

In the early part of the Diet session, questioning at the House of Representatives Budget Committee was delayed for a week because of the finance minister’s trip abroad. And in an utter fiasco, the successor to the economic revitalization minister was also appointed as a member of the Diet’s Judge Indictment Committee. This was due to a lack of information sharing between the government and the LDP.

It was also unusual when the prime minister changed his answer overnight regarding the conditions under which the government would request an order to dissolve a religious corporation. Did the prime minister fully consult with the Cabinet Legislation Bureau and relevant ministries and agencies?

The prime minister should keep in mind that he must not respond in an ad hoc manner.

In recent years, a system is said to have been established in which the Prime Minister’s Office takes the initiative to make swift policy decisions possible. However, this system will not function without appropriate personnel assignments and sufficient communication with the LDP and bureaucrats.

It is hoped that officials in charge at the Prime Minister’s Office, who serve as liaisons with the LDP, will work hard.

It is essential for the prime minister to show results through his policies. He must work steadily on measures to tackle the increase in prices as well as strengthen defense capabilities in light of the serious security environment.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 5, 2022)