2017 Lower House Election / Parties to spar over tax hike, top law / Abenomics to play big role in debates

The Yomiuri ShimbunWith Tuesday’s official announcement of the start of the House of Representatives election campaign, ruling and opposition parties will likely lock horns over major issues including economic policies, the consumption tax rate hike and constitutional amendment.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is almost aligned with its coalition partner Komeito in terms of policy positions, while the assertions of opposition parties conflict on several major issues.

Each party has been vying for votes by promoting their stances on the largest point of contention — whether to continue with or change the Abenomics economic policy package.

The ruling parties’ stance is to accelerate Abenomics.

The LDP asserts it will “accomplish a virtuous economic cycle” through the internet of things (IoT), or interconnection of everyday objects via the internet, and artificial intelligence, with “a productivity revolution” and “a revolution in human resources development” serving as two parts of a wheel.

The ruling parties are positioned to raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent as planned in October 2019.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also LDP president, promised in the party’s election pledges to reallocate the increased tax revenue accrued from the tax hike — expected to be about ¥5.6 trillion — so that part of the amount that would cover the government’s deficits instead goes toward child-rearing support and education improvements.

Although the opposition parties are making a concerted effort to oppose the consumption tax rate hike, they are divided over how to evaluate Abenomics.

Acknowledging the achievements of Abenomics, such as higher stock prices, Kibo no To has pledged to push ahead with a “Yurinomics” economic policy — named after the party’s leader, Yuriko Koike — focusing on eliciting private-sector vitality, and saying regulatory reform under the current administration is insufficient.

The Japanese Communist Party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party assert the need for a change in economic policies. They feel Abenomics has not achieved anything.

The prime minister is proposing constitutional revisions, including adding a provision in Article 9 to define “the legal grounds for the Self-Defense Forces.” Kibo, Ishin no Kai and the Party for Japanese Kokoro are positive toward revising Article 9.

However, Komeito is cautious about revising Article 9. In its election pledges, the party stipulated that “the public does not consider the SDF as being unconstitutional” in an attempt to differentiate itself from the LDP.

The LDP, Kibo and Ishin are actively promoting the stipulation of “free education” in the Constitution.

Koike is promoting Kibo’s active stance toward debates on constitutional amendment, saying, “Kibo no To will create a large wave for constitutional revision from now on.”

In its election pledges, the CDPJ said “it will promote debates on constitutional revision while opposing revising Article 9 of the Constitution for the worse with the security-related legislation in mind.”

The JCP and the SDP have made it clear they want to halt constitutional revision.

The LDP, Komeito, Kibo and others have stressed the necessity of the security-related laws that enable Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense in a limited manner. The JCP, the CDPJ and the SDP clearly regard the laws as unconstitutional.

Regarding policies on nuclear power generation, the LDP expressed a stance toward restarting nuclear reactors after confirming their safety, and then using them as an “important base-load power source.”

Ishin is pledging to “phase out existing nuclear power plants.”

Komeito, Kibo and the other three parties included “zero nuclear power plants” in their pledges. Regarding the timing to achieve that goal, Komeito has said nothing, Kibo says “by 2030,” and the CDPJ says “as soon as possible.”Speech

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