EDITORIAL: Regaining public trust offers the LDP the best path to political stability

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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party held its first congress on March 13 since Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was elected party chairman last September.

The meeting came as the world continues to hold its breath over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which threatens to disrupt the world order.

In Japan, policymakers are weighing plans to phase out new coronavirus restrictions as the sixth wave of infections eases.

The Upper House election this summer will provide voters with an opportunity to deliver their verdict on the LDP’s performance as the ruling party, charged with protecting the lives and livelihoods of the people.

In his speech at the convention, Kishida began by talking about the war raging in Ukraine.

He called Russia’s military aggression against its neighbor a “challenge to order and peace in the world, including in Asia”.

He said the conflict should be seen as “our” crisis and pledged to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities and its security alliance with the United States.

Regarding policy responses to the pandemic, Kishida stressed his “commitment” to reopening the economy and society while taking “all possible measures to prepare for the critical moment”.

Vowing to lead the coalition to a victory in the summer elections, Kishida said the “political stability” offered by the LDP coalition and its junior partner, Komeito, is crucial to achieving these political goals.

He has made it clear that he wants to consolidate his administration’s power base. But that should not obscure the fact that the administrations of his two immediate predecessors, Yoshihide Suga and Shinzo Abe, launched a series of controversial policy initiatives using the muscle of overwhelming coalition majorities.

We urge voters to closely monitor the administration’s performance to determine if Kishida is truly committed to pursuing “a policy of trust and sympathy”, his own political slogan, which was used in the title of the adopted party manifesto. during the convention.

Kishida has expressed his intention to seek “the confidence of the people” by advancing the reform of the LDP, which he promised during his campaign for the party’s leadership election.

He deserves credit for revising party rules to set a term limit for top party leaders, including the general secretary, at a maximum of “three consecutive one-year terms.” The change was formally adopted at the meeting.

The development of a “governance code” to establish the basic principles of party governance was also codified in the rules. But the details of the proposed code were to be determined in future debates within the party.

The process of redesigning the PLD has only just begun.

The rules governing a political party cannot be considered complete without a provision that obliges lawmakers of parties involved in political finance scandals to fulfill their responsibility to answer questions about allegations made against them.

Another provision is key for the party to investigate these accusations to determine if disciplinary action is warranted against the lawmakers involved.

In this regard, it is also essential to empower the party to take action against legislators it supported in elections, even after they left the party following such scandals.

The LDP reform project should also address the urgent challenge of promoting gender equality in politics.

Despite its support for the bill to promote parity among candidates in national and local elections, the LDP did not respect the principles set out in the law.

Women made up just 9.8% of the party’s candidates in the Lower House elections last fall.

The party manifesto sets the goal of increasing the rate of women in leadership positions in society as quickly as possible to around 30% by the 2020s.

But that goal has simply been borrowed from the government’s basic plan to promote gender equality, and there is no sign of the party’s firm resolve to lead by example.

Kishida said he will lead the LDP in a way that demonstrates his ability to change on his own. But a long and rocky road remains ahead of the party’s quest for reform.

–The Asahi Shimbun, March 15


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