Abe needs to explain why pain of reforms is worthwhile

Abe needs to explain why pain of reforms is worthwhile

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be required to carefully explain to the public what sacrifices the public will have to make if the growth strategy and reforms on foreign and security policies are carried out.

In his policy speech delivered Thursday, Abe expressed his strong determination to carry out such reforms based on his Liberal Democratic Party's victory in the House of Representatives election at the end of last year.

Abe emphasised the need for the reforms by invoking the words of forerunners who lived during the end of the Edo period (1603-1867) and in the Meiji (1868-1912) and Showa (1926-1989) eras.

"We must not be afraid of change in the name of tradition," Abe said, referring to Meiji-era art philosopher Tenshin Okakura's maxim, "Change is the only eternal." He also quoted, "Have confidence, my fellow Japanese," from the memoir of postwar Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who paved the road to the nation's reconstruction. Abe, about to embark on reforms, must have seen himself in those statements by his predecessors.

Abe considers agricultural reform as a feature of his reform policy. Having secured an agreement with the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA-Zenchu) on Monday with the government's reform plan to abolish JA-Zenchu's right to supervise and audit regional agricultural cooperatives, the prime minister stressed the necessity of revitalizing the nation's agriculture.

Abe is apparently trying to prove to the pubic that he is deadly serious about carrying out the drastic reforms by reforming agricultural cooperatives despite the fact that farmers are powerful supporters of his party.

However, while Abe stressed the importance of reforms, using quotations from forerunners, his speech was lacking in specifics in some parts.

Costs for social security programs such as pensions and medical care have been annually increasing by about ¥1 trillion, and it is a significant issue to achieve fiscal soundness. Pain accompanying change is unavoidable in building a new sustainable system. Everyone can understand that Japan, which is surrounded with difficult situations, needs reforms.

Abe is required to make more efforts to explain about the negative sides of the changes to be introduced by his reforms.

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