Abe, Ishiba trade barbs in debate

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Shinzo Abe, president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and his sole opponent in the party’s leadership race, Shigeru Ishiba, traded barbs on campaign issues in a debate session on Friday.

They held heated discussions on Abe’s handling of the government as prime minister and Ishiba’s main campaign pledge to revitalize regional economies.

It was the first time for the two candidates in the LDP presidential election, set for Thursday, to hold a policy debate since the official campaign period for the contest started on Sept. 7. The LDP president is effectively assured of the prime ministership because of the party’s comfortable majority in the House of Representatives.

“Democracy functions only if inconvenient information is not held back and sincere explanations about it are given to the people,” Ishiba, former secretary-general of the party, said, referring to a series of favoritism allegations against the Abe administration.

He also stressed the need to respect minority opinions in a Japanese political situation like today’s, where there is only one strong leader.

Abe responded, “Looking around the world, Japan has a comparatively solid foundation of democracy.”

Meanwhile, the prime minister apologized for document manipulation at the Finance Ministry that was related to one of the favoritism scandals.

“We’ve made the public feel uneasy with administrative problems,” Abe said, pledging to take preventive measures.

In discussing regional revitalization, Ishiba said, “I don’t accept the idea that the growth of Tokyo and large companies will have spreading effects on regional economies and small companies.”

“It’s necessary to tap the latent strengths of regional economies, small companies and the industries of agriculture, forestry and fisheries,” Ishiba said, demanding that the Abenomics economic policy be revised.Speech

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