There has been a substantial delay in the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) schedule for compiling its campaign pledges for the upcoming House of Councillors election. This is because while the pledges will be affected significantly by whether the consumption tax rate will be increased to 10%, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has yet to make a final decision.
Toshimitsu Motegi, head of the LDP’s Election Strategy Committee, complained to a liaison meeting of party executives on May 24 about the delay, telling them “we won’t be able to compete in this election.”
A fierce battle with the “unified candidates” of the Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, and other opposition parties is anticipated in the 32 single-seat districts to be contested in the election. LDP prefectural chapters are complaining that they cannot start full-fledged preparations unless the pledges are finalized.
LDP Policy Research Council chair Tomomi Inada and other top policy officials called on Abe at the Kantei (Prime Minister’s Official Residence) on May 20 to show him the draft Upper House election pledges compiled on the assumption of a consumption tax increase, but he did not make a specific decision, according to an informed source.
The original schedule was to print pamphlets on the pledges in May for distribution nationwide while the Diet is still in session to have sufficient time to publicize the policies. However, the documents distributed at the national conference of policy chiefs in April still did not contain any specifics.
In a news conference on May 24, Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki explained that the pledges will change depending on the outcome of the G7 Summit and the discussion on the consumption tax. In addition to the decision on the consumption tax hike, it appears that the LDP intends to incorporate the results of the G7 Ise-Shima Summit. It may also be thinking of rewriting the pledges in case a double Upper and Lower House election is held.
Despite the delay in drawing up campaign pledges, the LDP still plans to present draft pledges to the national conference of secretaries general scheduled for early June. However, considering the time needed for tweaking the wording of the pledges, printing, and so forth, the final version is expected to be distributed nationwide only shortly before the start of the official campaign period on June 22. Therefore, the party leadership is also considering the option of publishing an “abridged version.” (Slightly abridged)