Transcript of the first speech by Yukio Edano, the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) (October 3rd)
I truly appreciate that so many people have stopped by and gathered to listen to me. I am Yukio Edano, the leader of CDP. This morning, I have made official the establishment of the party. Such voices as: "Politics should properly deal with the big problems this country is having, the various crises this country is facing" are spreading more and more. There should be a group that listens and responds to these voices seriously. If there isn’t, then I have to form one myself. This is the way I feel and the basis upon which I have launched this party.
Our society is disciplined by rules. Our society is founded on the fact that everyone follows the rules. Even people with power should not govern without restraints. Power should be used based on rules, which are established in the Constitution. Power without rules is dictatorship.
We have named our party the "Constitutional Democratic Party." Some say that the word "Constitutionalism" is old-fashioned and hard to understand. However, all power is restricted by the Constitution. The Constitution protects the freedoms and human rights of each individual. The idea of Constitutionalism is so taken for granted in modern society that it has rarely been mentioned in our country, especially in the last 70 years since WWII. I would say this is regrettable. The situation in the last several years makes it necessary for us to remember the word "Constitutionalism" again. That is the situation in Japan today.
The idea that Constitutionalism must be guaranteed was presupposed even under the Meiji Constitution (1889-1947). At least until the period of Taisho Democracy (1910s-1920s), Constitutionalism was guaranteed. Major parties before the war changed their names several times, but Minsei-to and Seiyu-kai, the two largest parties, had "Constitutional" at the beginning of their names (Minsei-to was the Constitutional Democratic Party, and Seiyu-kai was the Constitutional Association of Political Friendship). Constitutionalism was a shared premise until a certain point even in the prewar period.
However, what is happening now? The government, which should be bound by the Constitution, has changed the interpretation of the Constitution that had been accepted for years. They changed it without any logical consistency. Based on this change, our national policy that the Self-Defense Forces protect the territory and territorial sea but do not go overseas to engage in fighting, learnt from the lesson of WWII and inherited by our foregoers, has been changed. This happened in Anpo Hosei (2015 Japanese military legislation).
We should change the legislation that violates the Constitution as soon as possible. We should have the violation of the Constitution abolished. This is the issue that should be dealt with regardless of the difference in ideologies, principles or policies. I would like to convey this message strongly and would truly appreciate your support and help in doing so.
(Freedom of expression)
There are many problems, not only with Constitutionalism. Conspiracy law risks the freedom of expression. Meanwhile, various pressures on the media, tangible or intangible, are significantly lowering Japan’s rank in Press Freedom Index.
(Disclosure of information, Official archives and records Management, Moritomo/Kake Issues)
The disclosure of information and the official archives and records management have reached a certain level in the last 24 years. I, Yukio Edano, worked as the person responsible for the team that established and amended both laws, so I know that very well. However, in spite of the accumulation of efforts to raise the disclosure of information as well as archives and records management to a certain level, where are the laws now? Look at Moritomo/Kake, the problem with the daily activity logs of the Self-Defense Forces! Ministries and the government do not follow the laws. Rules are not made on such assumptions. The laws on archiving, records management and the disclosure of information are made on the assumption that the administration will strictly follow the rules. People in administration take advantage of this assumption, saying that the documents have been disposed of, even though the documents must have been created and could not have been disposed of. They black out the documents and cannot even check what is wrong or to what extent it should be disclosed. This is the way they have shrugged off their faults.
The issues regarding Moritomo/Kake are not scandals. They are the result of wasteful spending of taxes. Are they really such a small problem? We do not tolerate waste of even a yen in taxes. This is what everyone says regardless of the party they belong to. And now they say this is a small issue? The government-owned land regarding Moritomo Gakuen costs hundreds of billions. If it is sold at a lower price than it cost, then the gap means that your taxes were used wastefully. If the establishment of a university that should not have been approved is approved, then it is your taxes that will be paid to the university every year as public subsidies to a private university. Both Moritomo and Kake are problems with how our taxes are used, not merely scandals.
(Life of the people, national economy)
Above all, there is a problem with the life of the people. "All Japanese are middle class" - I am now 53, but this is how Japanese society was described when I was a child. This is a society with not very many extremely rich people, but not very many extremely poor people. This is the reason for the economic growth of Japan. This is how today’s prosperity was formed. This is how our safe society, which is said to be the safest in the world, was built.
"Three Sacred Treasures." Television, washing machine and refrigerator. It was the period before I was born. "Three Cs." Color television, car/automobile and cooler/air conditioner. At first, only rich people among the middle class could acquire them, but then, people saw neighbors who had them and thought, "Oh, I’m jealous," and all the families started to have them. That was how the period was. And now we find ourselves in a different society; that Japanese society has gone somewhere else.
The economic disparity widens; poverty increases. How can the economic conditions get better in this way? Those who earn a million yen a year can only spend a million yen a year. They cannot consume. If someone with a 3 million annual income loses his or her job and manages to live by working as non-regular personnel or a part-time worker, and earns a million yen a year, then as a result, consumption decreases by 2 million yen. Conversely, if someone with a million yen annual income manages to get a permanent job and earns 3 million yen a year, then the gap, the 2 million yen, will be mostly spent on consumption. Poverty and economic disparity are not only humanitarian problems that require help for the poor, but also problems of economic conditions. The government is ignoring this situation, and this is why the economic conditions do not get better, no matter how much the stock market prices rise.
If the economic disparity widens, then the society will be divided. If society is divided, and politics foments conflict instead – is this really the way to create the future of Japanese society? Rather, let us change the large political stream.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake (March 11, 2011), people used the word "kizuna" (bonds). During the unprecedented disaster, the divided society seemed to be united by the human bonds emerging as people helped and supported each other. However, in the last five years, the bonds have been weakened more and more.
On the other hand, the 2015 Japanese military legislation opened the door for voices questioning the situation, and those who were not involved in politics very much before started to raise their voices in cooperation. We should not stop this movement. Democracy is not simply a system in which representatives are elected by majority vote and their decisions are made by majority vote. It is a mistake to think that is democracy. Democracy consists in discussion, in the process of discussion to decide on what satisfies as many people as possible. That is democracy.
Sometimes you cannot decide by any means. Everyone will disagree anyway. Then, only at that point, when you have all discussed the issues and there are still disagreements, can a decision be made by majority vote. Then the minority can be convinced because there is no other way. This process of convincing and being convinced is the core of the majority vote.
However, do the people who take the majority in both Houses understand this concept? Unfortunately, no. Once we are chosen, we can decide whatever we like, because we have the numerical strength. This kind of democracy from above is not democracy.
Hear our voices! Look at our situation! This kind of grass-roots democracy is the real democracy. Stop the democracy from up above and take back our grass-roots democracy.
By reinforcing the stronger people, by widening the economic disparity, they say, "it’s ‘Trickle-down,’ there it goes to you - someday!" Let us stop such economic policies from up above. Let us boost the life of the people having a hard time to make a living, let us push the life of the people up, and by doing so, let us push the whole society up, push the whole economy up.
(Opposing points: conservative and liberal)
It is not a time for ideology – the right or the left. From above or from below (grass-roots): this is the real conflict of the 21st century. People have hope for this new liberal party. Why are the conservatives and the liberals in confrontation? Conservativism and liberalism are not opposing concepts.
In the first place, is the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) today conservative? Who has been destroying the Japanese society? It was said that "All Japanese are middle class," it was said to be the safest place in the world, where people supported each other in the neighborhood and community. There shouldn’t be any conservatives who destroy the good tradition of Japanese society.
I acknowledge others’ various ways of life. If someone is in need, then people stand by them and support them. It is a society where people support each other.
"Liberal": by this word I mean to take back the Japanese society, where probably many of you grew up when Japan was called shining, when people said "All Japanese are middle class," when society had less hostile tension, when everyone lived in peace and security. I am both liberal and conservative.
Unfortunately, in this country such people have been losing their power. There are people in power who call themselves "conservative" but in reality are not conservative at all and are destroying the tradition and what we have inherited from the past in society. On the other hand, there are voices that do not have power but that are trying to take the Japanese society back, where people acknowledge different values and support each other. We will carefully and seriously listen and respond to those voices.
(What to protect)
Japan has not fought for more than 70 years. Japan has kept peace. In a society where people supported each other, we have formed a country that should have been the richest. This society, peace, democracy - where there was no problem even though people forgot such a word as Constitutionalism - I have launched a new political force to protect this society.
Let us all be protectors. Let us protect democracy. Let us protect the real democracy. Let us protect the Japanese society, where people support each other, get rich together and keep security together. In order to achieve this goal, please keep in mind the bonds, the mutual support, which the Great East Japan Earthquake has reminded us of. The 2015 Japanese military legislation has also reminded us to raise our voices: "We are the main characters of this country. It is not that the representatives may do anything they like just because they happen to have the majority in both Houses. Hear our voices!" We listen to such voices of you, the main characters of democracy, who have kept your distance from politics before, and move forward. We, the Constitutional Democratic Party, will take a step forward as such a party.
Our party was just born. Just born, we have to plunge into the election. I have to worry about my own election as well. Still, today, we are working so that we can announce our party as the Constitutional Democratic Party on October 10th.
Many people who believe the feeling that I have been telling you about since yesterday, who truly believe in the future of this country, who may have been a silent majority until now, have been giving us their cooperation and support. I believe you and have made my decision.
We may still be a toddler. However, the direction we take steps toward is in line with your hopes. I promise you this with confidence, and sincerely ask for your support to help us grow up as the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. I truly appreciate that so many people have gathered and stopped by to listen to me. I will do my best to meet your expectations. Thank you very much.