The Japanese Diet will be dissolved in December 2012, and a new Diet will soon be elected. The collapse of the DPJ government has been foreseen for some time; the Noda administration has expended what political capital it had on pushing for an unpopular, politically regressive increase in Japan’s consumption tax. Ho hum.
The center of Japanese national politics has been trending to the right – with the ruling party most recently pushed into bellicose exchanges with the Chinese and Koreans over island territorial disputes by perennial national embarrassment Shintaro Ishihara, and over a longer term, the emergence of noisy, nationalistic right wing flag-waving demonstrations, unabashed (and unembarrassed) patriotic display by members of the Diet, and the demagogic swaggering of Osaka Mayor Hashimoto.
But there are also emerging opportunities. For us, parents of children abducted to Japan, hopeful news comes into the crowded field in the form of a new party that is to some extent entering into a space created by large anti-nuclear power protests and the abandonment by the atrophied DPJ of its progressive agenda. Joined now by Ichiro Ozawa, formerly of the DPJ and still a voice in Japanese politics, the party, Nippon Mirai, is making the protection and support of children’s lives a significant part of its platform, alongside the anti-nuke stance.
Bringing the psychological violence that the family courts direct against children into the political dialogue, and calling for measures to end Japan’s reputation as “the child abductor state “are causes we should support, and urge our friends in Japan to do the same. Here is how the Japan Times reported this:
Kada’s party backs Hague treaty, monthly child support
But ¥312,000 a year may be just as hard to offer as it was for DPJ
Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada wants the nation to provide better child-rearing support, become a society that allows participation by everyone, and join the Hague Convention against abductions by estranged parents.
One of the main goals pledged by Kada’s new Nippon Mirai no To (Tomorrow Party of Japan) for the Dec. 16 general election is annual benefits of ¥312,000 per child, the same amount the ruling Democratic Party of Japan promised but, lacking the finances, failed to deliver after it won the previous poll in 2009.
During an interview and briefing with media Sunday, Kada voiced alarm over the nation’s low birthrate, warning Japan’s population is set to shrink to a third of what it is now by 2100.
“Japan has no future without its children. . . . Investing in children means investing in our future,” Kada said, explaining why her party is promising the child allowance.
Although the hastily compiled policy platform lacks details, it stipulates the party will help women so they are not placed at a disadvantage in their careers when they marry or give birth, and vows to ensure child-rearing becomes a shared responsibility involving the home, schools and communities.
Nippon Mirai also declared that Japan would sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to prevent cross-border parental kidnappings, so the nation will no longer be called the “child abduction state.”
But Kada’s goals of creating a female- and children-friendly society and investing ¥312,000 annually per child, or about ¥5.5 trillion in financial resources, will probably face the same problems the DPJ suffered — a lack of money.
Nippon Mirai’s leader insisted, however, that she could finance the program by cutting wasteful spending. Kada added that as Shiga governor, she was able to make ¥60 billion by stopping shinkansen and dam projects.
“What the DPJ tried and failed to do was carry out political leadership to rearrange the structure of the budget. . . . We will make each ministry come up with a plan to cut expenditures and form a path to a 20 to 30 percent decrease,” Kada said.
Nippon Mirai was just formed last week with the primary goal of ending nuclear power in Japan. It has added recruits, including members of small parties, among them Ichiro Ozawa, former head of the DPJ and Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People’s Life First), and other ex-DPJ lawmakers.
Kada blamed the Liberal Democratic Party for building a society that for decades relied heavily on nuclear power.
“There are so many people in Fukushima still suffering and already, (Japan) is starting to forget,” Kada said. “LDP President (Shinzo) Abe says Japan was able to achieve economic development because of the reactors. Is this right?”
Kada, who holds a doctorate in agriculture from Kyoto University, also clearly stated that her party is against Japan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade process, which aims to eliminate all tariffs among member states.