A summary of editorials from leading Japanese newspapers (December 5, 2014)
post date : 2014.12.05
A summary of editorials from leading Japanese newspapers, posted biweekly.
The official campaign of the House of Representatives election kicked off on Dec. 2 for voting on Dec. 14.
All five national dailies wrote about it in their Dec. 2 editorials, by mentioning a policy debate between the eight leaders of the ruling and opposition parties held on the previous day at the Japan National Press Club.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) said the point of this election is how voters will evaluate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s handling of his administration in the past two years—in particular his Abenomics policies.
The economic daily, however, said the Liberal Democratic Party should ask for the mandate of voters on constitutional revisions. “We wonder if [the LDP] has no intention of putting constitutional revisions on its political agenda during the next four years, or if it is trying to win the election by avoiding the issue that divides the nation. It should spare no efforts to explain its stance to voters to preclude future troubles over the issue,” it said.
The Yomiuri Shimbun said “the biggest point of contention is whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy package, or Abenomics, should be continued,” although it said there are many other challenges that lie ahead for Japan.
“Japan faces an array of difficult policy issues: how to end deflation without passing the buck to the next generation amid the fall in population, declining birthrate and the aging population; and how to maintain peace and prosperity for Japan,” The Yomiuri said.
The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun and The Sankei Shimbun said election issues are not limited to Abenomics.
“There is, however, one important issue that the heads of the eight political parties of both camps barely talked about as they presented their key campaign promises during the debate,” The Asahi said. “It is the harsh demographic reality of Japanese society. In addition to aging rapidly amid a declining number of children, the Japanese population is now shrinking. The demographic decline makes it inevitable that a heavy additional financial burden will be distributed among members of society.”
The Mainichi said “the pros and cons of ‘Abenomics’…is not the only point of contention in the campaign; all of the policies promoted by the Abe government are being called into question.” The daily said his energy policy and his initiative to change the government’s interpretation of the Constitution to allow the nation to exercise the right to collective self-defense should also be debated.
The Sankei said all parties should present national strategies on diplomacy and security, in addition to proposals for economic revitalization. “The ruling and opposition parties should debate about how Japan can maintain the people’s peace and security, and what role the country should play in the international community,” it said.
The Mainichi said there are concerns about voters’ low interest in this election. “Many voters appear to feel as if policy debate were being held somewhere far away since questions remain about the reasons for calling the election, as well as the points of contention,” the paper said.
The Asahi said Japanese politics is now at a “dangerous edge.” “Politics has often been described as a ‘choice of the lesser of two evils.’ Indeed, it is hard to make such a choice at the polls.” But the newspaper urged voters to shed the cynical view that nothing will change if they want to “carve out a certain and decent future” for Japan.
The Yomiuri echoed a similar sentiment and said the quality of politicians has deteriorated in recent years. “To which parties or candidates shall we entrust the country’s future? We need to properly discern their policies and competence,” it said.
The Nikkei said voters must proactively develop their interest in the election, as there are many constituencies in which certain candidates are projected to win without any serious challenge from rivals. “This election will test voters’ political maturity.”
*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi, and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively. Those for The Sankei and The Nikkei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center/Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.