The Democratic Party drafted an outline on Dec. 1 of campaign pledges for the next general election with a focus on (1) children and child-rearing, (2) the promotion of investment from global firms and (3) the revitalization of local economy. With an eye on a possible Diet dissolution in January, it will flesh out growth strategies and identify financial sources for final approval by the end of the year.
The outline plays up support for child-rearing and women’s empowerment, fields that DP leader Renho emphasizes as a counterweight to Abenomics. It calls for abolishing the spousal income tax deduction, for which the government and the ruling parties only changed the amount eligible for the deduction, and using that money to finance other policies. It also stipulates the introduction of legal measures to address longer working hours and legal regulations on “equal pay for equal work” to improve working conditions for non-regular workers, many of whom are women.
The outline includes the creation of a “Super Tokyo Stock Exchange Section” market to attract investment from global companies. To revitalize the local economy, it proposes the introduction of a “300-yen taxi service” for senior citizens and disabled people. The DP also aims to create virtuous cycles of people, goods, and money within local communities. As part of measures to secure financial sources, it calls for issuing “children’s bonds,” which are exclusively used for education and childcare policies.
Analysis: DP vision fails to chart a path for growth
The DP (former Democratic Party of Japan), which was inclined to criticize Abenomics, is struggling to draft an “economic platform,” which it identifies as a counterproposal to the government’s economic measures. The outline focuses on the child-rearing and women’s empowerment policies that leader Renho advocates, but the party has yet to envisage how to fight deflation and chart a clear path to sustainable growth.
The outline will serve as a base for the campaign pledges that the DP is preparing with an eye on an early Diet dissolution. But it also needs to present a national vision. Within the party, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Seiji Maehara has been leading discussions, but it may take some time to reach a conclusion.
The DP also needs to consider how to secure money in concrete terms. Its manifesto (campaign pledges) was derailed when it was in office, simply because it failed to secure financial sources. This time, the outline incorporates novel ideas, such as “children’s bonds.” But it has yet to work out the details, such as whether they will be issued based on the public finance act, like construction bonds, or based on a special law. (Slightly abridged)