Dissatisfaction over Takaichi’s insistence on own views on fiscal policy, TPP

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sanae Takaichi speaks to the media following the House of Representatives election on Oct. 31 in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Sanae Takaichi, Policy Research Council chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party, doesn’t hesitate to make her views known, but her ability to coordinate different opinions is believed to need sharpening.

Takaichi, who emerged as a strong candidate for the LDP presidency in the September election, was left out of discussions between the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito over a benefits program after LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi was put in charge of the talks. The program will distribute benefits worth ¥100,000 per person aged 18 or under to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Policy Research Council is not a subcontractor of the Cabinet,” Takaichi said at a general meeting of the council held at party headquarters on Wednesday. “The role of the council is to convey to the government the voices of local communities and to make them a reality.”

Takaichi asserts her opinions without hesitation. At the council’s board of directors meeting on Tuesday, she asked a senior Finance Ministry official to review the budgeting policy for fiscal 2022, saying that too much emphasis is being placed on fiscal discipline. Takaichi advocates economic growth through bold fiscal stimulus measures. She is also considering revamping and abolishing the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Fiscal Reconstruction, which discusses fiscal soundness.

Immediately after taking office, Takaichi made a pledge for the House of Representatives election, which clearly stated that the party would welcome Taiwan’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. This reflected her own assertions in the LDP presidential election.

However, there is some dissatisfaction within the LDP, with a former cabinet minister saying, “The essential role of the policy chief should be to make adjustments to policies with others, rather than push through his or her pet theories.”

The discussions between the ruling parties over the ¥100,000 benefit program were conducted between the parties’ secretary generals. Takaichi’s remark that Komeito’s pledge for the lower house election was “completely different from the LDP’s pledge” was likely behind this.

Takaichi, who served as LDP Policy Research Council chairperson from 2012 to 2014, is passionate about policymaking. But an LDP executive said, “She takes on too much by herself.”

The view has emerged that Motegi will continue to be responsible for coordinating policy issues between the LDP and the government or Komeito.