Japanese party leaders clash over economy plans ahead of poll

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Leaders of ruling and opposition parties in Japan clashed over how to revitalize the country’s economy, which was hit by the COVID-19 crisis, during an online debate that took place. held on Sunday in the run-up to the October 31 general election.

They focused on support measures for households and businesses affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic and medium and long-term economic policies.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has pledged to rebuild the country’s middle class through measures in a new form of capitalism, his signature economic policy.

Yukio Edano, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said the party aims to increase taxes on financial income, differentiating the CDP from the LDP.

During the LDP leadership race last month, Kishida showed his eagerness to raise taxes on financial income, but recently suggested he would put the idea aside for now.

The election to the House of Representatives, the all-important lower house of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, will be the first since October 2017, with the official campaign period for the next ballot set to start on Tuesday.

The lower house was dissolved on Thursday, meaning the general election will only take place 17 days after the split, the shortest period in post-war history.

“We will work to make the economy and society rich by achieving a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution,” Kishida said during the online debate.

As measures to be put in place for now, Kishida cited cash benefits for households in need and others facing economic hardship. “We hope to provide cash donations quickly using additional budget,” he said.

Edano said: “We will ask those who have profited from Abenomics to bear the burden,” stressing the need to increase financial income tax and corporate tax. The money from the tax hike will be distributed to low-income people to support the economy, he said.

Abenomics are the reflationary policy mix launched by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The policy was inherited by Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s successor and Kishida’s predecessor.

“We will revive the economy by stimulating consumption,” said Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of Komeito, the PLD’s coalition partner, citing the party’s commitment to provide benefits worth 100,000 yen per person. to all children under the age of 18.

Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii called for halving the consumption tax rate to 5%. “We have to move away from neoliberalism,” he said.

Ichiro Matsui, head of the Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japanese Innovation Party), stressed that funds for a redistribution policy can be secured through “painful reforms”.

The leader of the People’s Democratic Party, Yuichiro Tamaki, said the party would seek to craft a stimulus package worth 150 trillion yen to achieve an economy where wages are rising.

Aggressive spending was also sought by Reiwa Shinsengumi leader Taro Yamamoto, Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima and NHK leader Takashi Tachibana at Saiban Shiteru To Bengoshiho 72 Jo Ihan De, a party critical of the national channel NHK.

The leaders of the political parties who are candidates for the next legislative elections pose after a debate organized on Sunday by the video streaming site Nico Nico Douga. | KYODO

The opposition has grilled Kishida over a change in position regarding the taxation of financial income and other policies.

During the LDP leadership race, Kishida presented a revenue doubling initiative. But he did not mention the plan in his first political speech to the Diet on October 8.

Tamaki criticized Kishida on this, saying, “Have you abandoned the income doubling plan? “

In response, Kishida said, “I will definitely continue the initiative. I believe this can be achieved if the virtuous circle of growth and distribution is established.

Earlier on Sunday, senior officials from ruling and opposition parties held a debate on a TV show.

“We will work to increase the population of the country’s middle class to stabilize society,” said PLD general secretary Akira Amari, demonstrating Kishida’s goal of achieving a new capitalism.

CDP General Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama underscored the party’s determination to secure a change of government, saying it was seeking to create a “decent policy” instead of one marred by problems such as falsification of documents.

Komeito Secretary General Keiichi Ishii said: “Only the LDP-Komeito coalition can implement policies under a stable government. “

JCP executive Akira Koike said Kishida’s government cannot change the policies of its two immediate predecessors, Abe and Suga.

Nippon Ishin General Secretary Nobuyuki Baba has pledged to generate financial resources through bold reforms.

Acting DPP chief Kohei Otsuka called for the issuance of government bonds to free up funds for education-related measures.

The 465 seats in the lower house will be up for grabs in the general elections. Of the total, 289 are for single-member constituencies and 176 of the 11 proportional representation blocks.

Before the dissolution of the Lower House, the LDP and Komeito had a total of 305 seats – 276 and 29, respectively.

The number of seats was 110 for the CDP, 12 for the JCP, 10 for Nippon Ishin, eight for the DPP and one for Reiwa Shinsengumi, the SDP and the anti-NHK party.

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