The Yomiuri ShimbunVoting day has arrived for the first House of Councillors election in the Reiwa era. This is an opportunity to evaluate the policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration and set a course for the nation. Voters should cast ballots while acknowledging this importance.
The upper house election will be contested with 124 seats up for grabs. The focus of attention is whether the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito will be able to secure a majority of 63 seats and further increase the number of seats it holds.
Four opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, fielded joint candidates in all the 32 constituencies where only one seat is up for grabs in this election. Under this strategy, the opposition parties are cooperating to challenge the giant ruling coalition.
Voters have generally shown little interest in the election. According to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey, this tendency is more pronounced among younger generations.
In Japan, the number of elderly people is increasing, while the size of the labor force is decreasing. It is necessary to grow the economy even under severe conditions and create a social security system through which people can live free from anxiety. Politics has a great role to play.
How can a system in which each person is able to make the most of their individuality and demonstrate their abilities in the workplace and society be created? How can an environment that makes it easier to raise children be created? There are many themes related especially to young people.
Which political party and candidate have opinions that are persuasive and feasible? It is necessary to determine this. It is also important to compare policies using newspapers and the internet.
Debate over tax hike key
The debate over the pros and cons of the consumption tax hike has shown the clear difference between the ruling and opposition parties.
The ruling parties pledged to raise the tax rate to 10 percent from October as scheduled.
Raising the consumption tax rate is inevitable to secure a stable source of revenue for ever-increasing social security costs. While sustaining the economy, it should be implemented smoothly.
Each opposition party called for a freeze or suspension of the consumption tax hike. This was aimed at easing the burden on households and thus increasing consumption. However, how is it possible to cover the increasing budget expenditure due to the aging population? They are calling for raising the corporate tax rate, among others, as an alternative revenue source, but this could undermine the international competitiveness of Japanese companies.
The pension system also became a point of contention. The ruling parties stressed that the current system is sustainable. The opposition parties pointed out concerns over life in old age, saying the value of pensions would be decreasing.
Pensions are a pillar of life in old age. It is important to stabilize the system while restraining the burden on the working-age generations. Which political party is making a responsible argument for the future? It is imperative to closely examine this.
Attention is also focused on whether the ruling parties and those who support constitutional revision, including Nippon Ishin no Kai, can hold on to at least two-thirds of the upper house seats.
It is the responsibility of politics to discuss what form the nation’s top law should take in line with the changing times. Which party is facing this issue sincerely? This will be one of the criteria for making a decision.