What do the parties regard as the campaign issues in the House of Representatives election and what policies will they advocate to the people? We interviewed the heads of the ruling and opposition parties.
Q: What will be your main campaign issues in the Lower House election?
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President (Prime Minister) Shinzo Abe: The main issue is the policy direction in dealing with the North Korean threat and the low birth rate. We need to make North Korea change its policies in order to resolve the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues. We will work with the international community to strengthen pressure to the maximum level. We need to make a major policy shift to provide social security for all generations and invest boldly in the childrearing generation and in our children’s future in order to overcome the low birth rate. This will be the greatest challenge for Abenomics. The new party boom in the 1990s and the Democratic Party of Japan boom in 2009 brought about political upheaval and economic decline. Only policies can open up Japan’s future, not booms.
Q: While you are seeking the people’s mandate on changing the way revenue income from raising the consumption tax rate to 10% is to be used, the Party of Hope wants to freeze the consumption tax hike.
Abe: I would like to speed up Abenomics and achieve a powerful virtuous economic cycle. It is also very important to show how we intend to overcome the greatest hurdle of the low birth rate and aging population. As well as giving the people peace of mind, we would like to stimulate consumption. We would like to use revenues from the tax hike to overcome the low birth rate. While the Party of Hope is talking about “freezing” the tax hike, it has not made clear to the people whether it is in favor or against the tax hike and what it regards as the conditions conducive to raising the tax rate. This is an extremely irresponsible position. The LDP takes pride in implementing policies honestly and responsibly and producing results as a conservative party.
Q: How do you intend to realize constitutional revision?
Abe: We would like to deepen the debate among the people and seek broad understanding on four issues: an explicit provision on the Self-Defense Forces, free education, response to contingencies, and eliminating joint House of Councillors constituencies in our effort to work for constitutional revision. We would like to ask all parties to present their proposals to the Diet’s Commissions on the Constitution and engage in constructive deliberations.
Q: What is your target number of seats in this election?
Abe: A Lower House election is an election to choose an administration. The voters will be asked to choose the LDP-Komeito coalition government or an administration led by the Party of Hope, for example. Unless we are able to win a majority of seats, I will step down. Our ultimate goal is to win a majority of seats.
Q: In the event that you fail to win a majority of seats, will you consider a coalition government with the Party of Hope and other parties?
Abe: We should not be talking about forming alliances at this point. We will focus on appealing to the people to win a majority of seats by the LDP and Komeito.
Q: What do you think of the Party of Hope? Do you think its leader, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, should run in the Lower House election?
Abe: Each day, there are new parties popping up and parties disappearing. It’s really confusing. It is sbsolutely unclear who belongs to which party and what he/she wants to do. It is truly regrettable that parties are merging and splitting with unclear policies. The LDP will exert utmost efforts to campaign on its policies steadfastly and honestly. Ms. Koike received the Olympic flag at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and has committed herself to making the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games a success. Tokyo is Japan’s face, and she bears serious responsibility for its administration. She should decide on her course of action.