In the afternoon of November 18, “Café Democrats”, a regular forum for briefing on current political topics for members of the diplomatic corps stationed in Tokyo, was held at the Parliamentary Museum. DP President Renho briefed the assembled diplomats on “My Challenges as the New President of the Democratic Party”.
Before moving to the main theme of her briefing, Renho commented on the meeting held that same day in New York between Prime Minister Abe and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, saying, “I understand that with focused attention from international media and various political figures, the meeting must have taken place under a great deal of pressure. However, unfortunately, since it was an unofficial discussion, Prime Minister Abe’s comments were not made public. In particular, the Japanese Diet and the countries who have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement are extremely interested in finding out the direction to be taken on the free trade framework and the TPP. I myself intend to participate in the forthcoming debate in the Diet and ask the Prime Minister to make clear what kind of dialogue they had and what the position of President-elect Trump is. At the same time, the current President of the United States is Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Abe should also pay proper courtesies to President Obama.”
Moving onto the actual briefing on “My Challenges as the New President of the Democratic Party”, Renho said that the greatest political challenge facing Japan is the falling birthrate, that it is important to increase labor productivity, and that “investment in people” is necessary in order to achieve this. In addition, she stressed that children’s education is a high priority issue, and said that if the government continues to neglect the problem of child poverty, the resulting economic loss would be huge. In order to solve these problems, she referred to the need to reduce the number of children who are unable to continue on to university for monetary reasons. By so doing, she suggested that both development of children's ability and increases in tax revenues could be expected. This would not immediately be reflected in share prices, but Renho set out her vision for turning Japan into a nation that values people by building a society with a high labor productivity.
Various prime ministers have labelled the DP as doing “nothing but opposing” government policies, but Renho explained that the DP had voted in favor of 80 out of the 94 pieces of legislation approved during the ordinary Diet session, and had also submitted a number of Diet member—sponsored bills that exceeded the number of government-sponsored bills submitted by the Cabinet. Hence, she stressed that criticism against the party’s actions as “being nothing but opposing” is untrue. In addition, she stated her vision for the future direction of the DP, saying, “Our party has its own policy proposals and wisdom and I would like to make it into a party that ensures these properly reach voters.”
In the subsequent question and answer session, Renho was asked questions that included her reaction to the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. President, the revision of the Constitution, and the role of women in international politics. A lively discussion took place.
DP International Department Director-General Hiroe Makiyama acted as moderator for the session, which was also attended by Next Minister for Foreign Affairs Yukihisa Fujita, and International Department Vice Directors-General Junya Ogawa, Takatane Kiuchi, and Hideya Sugio.