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2017 Lower House Election / LDP, Kibo to lock horns over consumption tax rate hike

The Yomiuri ShimbunWith all the major parties having unveiled their campaign pledges for the upcoming House of Representatives election, the fight for power between the Liberal Democratic Party and Kibo no To (Party of Hope) is set to play out over the planned consumption tax rate hike and several other issues, including nuclear power policy.

However, the two parties are in accord when it comes to seeking constitutional revision. Depending on the election results, debates on revision will possibly be set in motion.

As the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan announced its campaign pledges on Saturday, the pledges of all major parties have now been presented for the election.

The official announcement of the election is scheduled for Tuesday, with voting and ballot counting on Oct. 22.

Regarding whether the consumption tax rate should be raised to 10 percent in October 2019, as currently planned, the ruling and opposition parties’ positions on the issue directly reflect the antagonism between the camps.

The LDP and Komeito call for raising the tax rate as planned and introducing a reduced tax rate system for certain items such as food and drink.

They also say they will review how increased revenues from the planned tax rate hike are to be used and prioritize allocations to such areas as child-rearing and education.

In contrast, Kibo and Nippon Ishin no Kai are calling for a freeze on the consumption tax rate hike.

The Japanese Communist Party also seeks a suspension of the hike, and the CDPJ calls for it to be shelved for now, saying the rate “cannot be raised immediately.”

But ambiguity lingers over revenue sources, which opposition parties say they would secure from means other than the rate hike.

Kibo says it will tax the internal reserves held by companies. But it has been pointed out that this would result in double taxation for corporations, and the plan’s feasibility is being questioned.

While the LDP defines nuclear power in its campaign pledges as an “important base-load power source,” opposition parties are calling for a departure from nuclear power.

Kibo’s campaign pledges show a flexible position over restarting idle nuclear reactors, but it also says it will not construct new nuclear reactors and seek “zero nuclear power by 2030.”

The JCP calls for “suspension in restarting nuclear reactors,” while the CDPJ aims for “zero nuclear power as soon as possible” and devising “a basic law for zero nuclear power.”

The LDP, Kibo and Ishin all take a positive stance on revising the Constitution. The LDP says it aims for revisions on four points: stipulating a constitutional basis for the Self-Defense Forces; providing education for free and in an improved and strengthened manner; handling emergency situations; and resolving the issue of merged constituencies of neighboring prefectures for the House of Councillors.

Kibo also clearly says it will “promote discussions for revision, including that of Article 9 of the Constitution.”

As for the revision of Article 9, the LDP, Kibo and Ishin hold positive positions, while the JCP and the CDPJ say they strongly oppose “the changing for the worse of Article 9.”Speech

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