The ruling Liberal Democratic Party on September23 elected Aso Taro as its next (23rd) president. He will succeed his predecessor Fukuda Yasuo whose term of office expires in September 2009.
Aso is expected to be named the next prime minister in the Extraordinary Session of the Diet due to be convened on September 24 following the Fukuda Cabinet's resignation en masse earlier in the day.
A member of cabinets led by then Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro and his successor Abe Shinzo, Aso is one of those responsible for promoting the so-called "structural reform" policy that includes deregulations and cutbacks in tax revenues allocated to local governments.
He was the second chairman of a parliamentarian group supporting the cause of Yasukuni Shrine which praises the past Japanese war of aggression as a just war.
He came under severe criticism when he stated that Koreans under Japanese colonial rule asked for their names to be changed to Japanese, distorting the historical fact that the Japanese colonial administrators forced Koreans to adopt Japanese-style names.
The LDP attempted to use its 12-day presidential campaign to attract the public's attention to help them to dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election as soon as possible. However, the five candidates were unanimous in continuing the policy line, which offers only a no-way-out situation.
Contrary to their expectations, the public's distrust has grown more than ever amid a series of adverse events, including the re-sale of tainted foreign rice and the financial crisis in the United States.
Shii pointed out that the recent election took place in an unusual situation after two successive prime ministers abandoned power, and that the candidates should have shown a way to break out of the deadlock in LDP-Komei policies. "Nevertheless, Mr. Aso stated nothing as to how to solve the increasing poverty rate and widening gaps between poor and rich or the Japanese subservience to the United States in sending troops abroad.
Referring to the recent LDP presidential election campaign, he said, "They were unable even to stir a storm in a teacup."
Shii reiterated the JCP demand that the upcoming Extraordinary Session of the Diet hold Budget Committee meetings in both houses to discuss urgent issues, including employment, the discriminatory health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and over, and food safety.
"The Diet must hold in-depth discussions on these pressing issues before asking voters for their verdict in a snap House of Representatives general election so that the public can understand the points at issue," he said.
Referring to some LDP politicians seeking the earliest possible dissolution of the House of Representatives for a general election to be held before further misgovernment is exposed under the new cabinet, Shii said, "A dissolution by covering up government defects goes against the accepted understanding of democracy."
- Akahata September 23, 2008