The Yomiuri Shimbun Heavyweights from the ruling and opposition parties engaged in nationwide verbal battles on Wednesday, following the official start on the previous day of campaigning for the Oct. 22 House of Representatives election.
In light of North Korea’s repeated provocations, including ballistic missile launches, three groupings are actively promoting their security policies: the ruling parties of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito; Kibo no To (Party of Hope) and Nippon Ishin no Kai; and the Japanese Communist Party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party.
Pyongyang made no new provocations on Tuesday’s 72nd anniversary of the establishment of its ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, but the Japanese government is continuing to monitor the situation in coordination with the United States and South Korea.
The LDP’s Shigeru Ishiba gave a stump speech in Fujimino, Saitama Prefecture, on Wednesday morning. “If North Korean missiles fly toward us, we will shoot them down without fail. We can make this happen in a few years,” the former defense minister said.
The LDP is putting its response to the increasingly tense North Korean situation at the forefront of the campaign, adopting the campaign slogan “Resolutely defending this country.”
Komeito is also using stump speeches and other opportunities to stress the importance of resolving issues involving North Korea. “We will pile even greater pressure on North Korea, which is not stopping its ballistic missiles and nuclear tests,” Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said.
In the opposition camp, Kibo and Ishin are calling for realistic security policies, while parties such as the JCP and the CDPJ are intensifying their criticism of the governing parties.
Kibo’s Goshi Hosono, who was a member of the recently dissolved lower house, made a speech in front of JR Musashikosugi Station in Kawasaki on Wednesday morning.
“The Democratic Party’s security policies were not realistic,” Hosono said, referring to the largest opposition party, which has been essentially dissolved. “We created Kibo no To to get past [the DP’s security policies]. A political party in charge of the government must implement realistic policies, particularly when it comes to security issues.”
In its campaign pledges for the lower house election, Ishin has vowed to develop realistic diplomacy and security policies, arguing coordination among Japan, the United States, China and South Korea is essential in dealing with North Korean issues.
The JCP’s Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Keiji Kokuta spoke in Kyoto on Wednesday morning, saying: “Mr. Abe supports the U.S. administration of [President Donald] Trump, who said he would ‘totally destroy North Korea.’ That means [Abe] wouldn’t even mind if a war erupted. A war must never be allowed to happen.”
Holding a microphone, CDPJ leader Yukio Edano criticized Prime Minister Abe during a speech in Saitama. “It is not a proper democracy when the prime minister, who is supposed to abide by the [existing] interpretation of the Constitution, has in fact changed it without permission,” Edano said in an apparent reference to laws such as the security-related legislation, which includes stipulations permitting limited exercise of the right to collective self-defense.
Early voting in the lower house election began across the nation on Wednesday morning for people who will not able to go to ballot boxes on Oct. 22 for reasons such as work and travel. Early voting will basically take place from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Oct. 21 at voting stations installed in each municipality.Speech