TOKYO (Reuters) - Campaigning began on Tuesday in an election that pits Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party against the fledgling Party of Hope led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and other smaller parties contesting seats in Japan’s more powerful lower house of parliament.
The following are the stances on key policies from the LDP, Party of Hope and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), another new party made up of the rump of the disbanded opposition Democratic Party. The election is Oct. 22.
- Proceed with a planned sales tax hike in 2019 to 10 percent from the current 8 percent. Use part of the revenue from the increase for childcare and welfare programs.
- Freeze the scheduled sales tax hike to ensure economic recovery.
- The sales tax should not be raised to 10 percent at once.
- Accelerate the “Abenomics” recipe of hyper-easy monetary policy and fiscal spending to realize economic recovery and break away from deflation.
- Maintain the objective of turning Japan’s budget balance to a surplus, without setting a deadline for achieving it. The party previously said it aimed to hit the goal by fiscal 2020.
- Boost Japan’s productivity and cope with labor shortages through innovation in such areas as robots, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.
- Maintain the Bank of Japan’s ultra-easy monetary policy as debate on withdrawing the stimulus is premature.
- Scrap over-reliance on fiscal spending and monetary easing. Maintain the Bank of Japan’s massive stimulus for the time being, but call on the government and the BOJ to work together to seek a smooth exit from ultra-loose monetary policy.
- Impose tax on companies’ huge internal reserves and use the proceeds to improve Japan’s fiscal health and make up for a shortfall of revenues from freezing the sales tax hike.
- Seek to adopt a “basic income” system, in which all citizens receive a set amount of money on a regular basis, to help low-income households.
- Maintain the Bank of Japan’s ultra-easy policy for the time being but urge the central bank to work with the government to seek a smooth withdrawal of stimulus in the future.
- Boost wages of childcare and nursing care workers.
- Put a cap on working hours and raise minimum wages.
- Realize “equal pay for equal work”.
- Revise the pacifist constitution to provide a firm legal basis for Japan’s military, which is called the Self-Defense Forces. Article 9 of the constitution, which was drafted by the United States after World War Two, renounces war as a means for resolving international disputes, and the maintenance of armed forces for this purpose.
- Hold debate on possible revisions to Article 9 and other parts of the constitution.
- Oppose the LDP’s plan to clarify the status of the military in the constitution.
- Take a leading role as the international community applies pressure on North Korea to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
- Further solidify Japan’s alliance with the United States and strengthen Tokyo’s missile defense capabilities.
- Echoes the LDP’s calls for strict enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, early return of those Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents decades ago, and tighter alliance with the United States.
- Use diplomacy to resolve the North Korean crisis peacefully. Uphold exclusively defensive security policy.
- Utilize nuclear power as an important part of Japan’s energy mix for now as long as its safety is ensured, but will lower the country’s dependence on nuclear energy as more renewable energy sources are introduced.
- End nuclear power by 2030 amid public safety worries after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Offer government aid on research to increase the ratio of renewable energy to 30 percent.
- Put an end to nuclear power as soon as possible.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; editing by Malcolm Foster & Simon Cameron-Moore