The Yomiuri ShimbunThere is a mountain of issues to be tackled in domestic politics and foreign policy. It is the responsibility of the main ruling party to present remedial measures based on medium- and long-term strategies and implement them steadily.
The Liberal Democratic Party has announced a package of campaign pledges for the House of Councillors election to be held this summer. It is characterized by the promotion of robotics, artificial intelligence and the so-called fourth industrial revolution, with a view to building a strong economy.
It is reasonable that the package calls for pushing forward technological innovations and enhancing competitiveness. These tasks need to be tackled in cooperation with the private sector.
In its campaign promises, the LDP states that the consumption tax rate will be raised to 10 percent in October. The package includes various economic measures to be taken in the aftermath of the tax increase, including the introduction of a reward points scheme.
The consumption tax is an important revenue source for pushing forward fiscal reconstruction and sustaining social security. In cooperation with the government, the LDP is called on to prepare an environment in which the tax hike can be carried out smoothly.
A pillar of the campaign pledges is tackling a task that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attaches importance to: the era of the 100-year life cycle. It is necessary to expand the system in which people choose when to start receiving their pensions and move forward with construction of nursing care facilities. The establishment of a flexible system that can support the nation’s superaging society is urgently required.
The lack of concrete policy measures to fiscally stabilize the social security system is unsatisfactory. As the elderly population increases, the financial burden on the working-age population is becoming heavier. It is imperative to curb benefits for medical treatment and nursing care as well as to call on the elderly with financial capabilities to bear a fair share of the burden.
To prevent the burden from being passed on to future generations, it is necessary to present an entire picture of social security reform and obtain understanding from a wider range of the general public.
Activate constitutional debate
It is also important to pay attention to regional areas where depopulation has been progressing. In its campaign pledges, the LDP listed such measures as helping young people start up businesses and secure employment, as well as attracting foreign tourists.
In regional areas where it is difficult to maintain population sizes, it is essential to discuss countermeasures, including expanding administrative coverage to wider areas.
On foreign policy, the package advocates taking the initiative in making rules for such areas as trade and the environment, as host of the summit meeting of the Group of 20 major economies to be held in Osaka late this month. It also included a solution to the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. It is imperative for the LDP to support the government in tackling these issues.
It can be said the push for “early revision of the Constitution” in the package reflects the strong intention of Abe, who has set a goal of realizing constitutional revision in 2020.
Abe will direct criticism at some opposition parties for their stance of not complying with requests for holding Diet debates on constitutional revision, thus making the issue a point of contention in the upper house election campaign.
It is the responsibility of political parties to review the Constitution according to changes in international affairs and society, so it is understandable that the LDP is seeking a public mandate on the matter.
In its campaign promises, the LDP has also emphasized an idea of invigorating constitutional discussions both in and outside of the party in order to win over a wider spectrum of the general public.
The LDP is urged to conduct street and other campaign activities energetically in various parts of the country to further galvanize public opinion on the Constitution.