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毎日デイリーニューズ/2018/10/11 14:10

Is supporting PM Abe's politics a major role for Komeito?

Natsuo Yamaguchi entered his 10th year as the head of Komeito, winning his sixth consecutive term during the general meeting of the party. Komeito is the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Fellow Komeito members praise the management style of Yamaguchi, 66, as stable, but Komeito has done little to appeal its own agenda under a political climate dominated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The LDP controls a majority of seats in both houses of the Diet. The number of seats Komeito has in the House of Representatives is only 10 percent of that held by the LDP, and 20 percent of the LDP's strength in the House of Councillors. Komeito still maintains a coalition with the LDP because of the parties' mutual dependence in elections growing deeper.
Komeito has cooperated in the passage of bills with a strong "Abe color" in the Diet. They include the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, national security acts and related revisions allowing the use of the right to collective defense, the revised act to punish organized crimes that incorporated conspiracy as a punishable offence and the act on integrated resorts that has paved the way for the introduction of casinos.
There was strong public opposition against each of those legislations. Because of this, Komeito helped revise the drafts for the bills, and while the implication of such efforts may be understood, Komeito itself has yet to send a clear message about the party's goals for Japan.
The meaning of the LDP-Komeito coalition has shifted from supporting the LDP in the Diet to supporting it in elections. Now, Komeito acts as though it is a complementary element to Abe's politics.
For the first time, Komeito failed to win 7 million votes in the national proportional representation blocs in the lower house election last year. Critics inside the party accuse the current leadership of distancing Komeito from its founding principles of pursuing humanism, peace and public welfare, and instead focusing on defending its organization in the face of continuing decline in public support. In the Sept. 30 Okinawa gubernatorial election, one of the most important local elections for the ruling coalition, Komeito failed to get the candidate to whom it gave its all-out support with the LDP elected.
Komeito should play the role of striking a balance with the LDP, which tends to rush in one direction. The party should have admonished Prime Minister Abe for his handling of favoritism allegations involving school operators Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution. Komeito also failed to follow through with criticizing Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso over a series of scandals involving the Finance Ministry under his supervision.
Did the party decide to go soft on Aso due to the necessity of cooperating with the LDP in the upper house election next year? If that is the case, the party must reconsider its stance.
Prime Minister Abe has indicated that he will accelerate his efforts to revise the Constitution. Yamaguchi is cautious about taking such a step, but the LDP may try to ram the revisions through the Diet, judging from its past behavior involving coalition affairs. If that happens, can Komeito live up to its fundamental ideals and utilize its experience and deep knowledge about managing the ruling coalition?
The sixth term of the Yamaguchi-led Komeito leadership has also taken generational changes into account, replacing Yoshihisa Inoue, 71, with Tetsuo Saito, 66, as the secretary general of the party. As Komeito commemorates its 55th anniversary next year, more questions are likely to be raised about the originality of the party's policies.




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