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Editorial: Discuss coronavirus crisis strategy in LDP presidential election contest

  • September 9, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 12:19 p.m.
  • English Press

How can each candidate overcome the crisis caused by the infectious disease and envision a new image of the nation? They must clearly indicate the path Japan should take toward the revitalization of its economy and society.


With the campaign for the presidency of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party officially starting, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida and former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba are running. The new party president will be elected at a general meeting of LDP lawmakers of both chambers of the Diet on Monday.


Suga has gained the upper hand with the support of five major factions. The sense of safety that he will continue the policies of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems to have led to widespread support for Suga.


It is hoped that after reviewing the policies of the Abe administration, the three candidates will discuss which policies should be developed and how they should be revised.


The biggest achievement of the Abe administration was to stabilize politics. The new administration should also build a solid political foundation and carry out its policies decisively.


Halting the spread of the novel coronavirus and restoring peace of mind in daily life are urgent tasks.


In his speech, Suga expressed his aim to secure enough vaccines for all the people by the first half of next year, stating that he would “take measures with the right emphasis on key points.” Kishida said that he would expand polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, while Ishiba called for an early revision of the special measures law on new strains of influenza.


It is necessary to take thorough measures in preparation for winter when the infectious disease is expected to become more prevalent. The management ability to deal flexibly with the crisis according to the situation of infections will be called into question.


At the same time, another task the new administration must tackle promptly is to lead the economy to medium and long-term stable economic growth. The rate of decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) was the largest since the end of World War II. An increase in the number of companies going bankrupt and people losing jobs is feared.


For the time being, support such as benefits to be used for maintaining employment and continuing business operations will help tide companies over during the emergency. However, a growth strategy is essential to strongly shore up the economy.


It is commendable that Suga expresses his intention to put top priority on the economy. But many of his policies to promote economic growth have been inherited from the Abe administration, and such policies alone cannot be said to be sufficient.


Suga has proposed promoting digitization of administrative work, while Kishida has proposed the creation of a “data agency.” It is urgent for Japan to deal with digitization, as it lags behind other countries.


All the three candidates are focusing on rural areas, with Kishida calling for narrowing rural-urban gaps and Ishiba stressing the need for regional revitalization.


Vitalization of local communities has long been a pending issue. It is important to show concrete measures to overcome difficulties.


Amid growing uncertainty over the international situation as competition for hegemony between the United States and China has been intensifying, it is regrettable that discussions on foreign and security policies have not deepened.


Suga’s diplomatic skills are unknown compared with those of Kishida, who served as foreign minister for a long time, and Ishiba, who is well versed in security policy.


The three candidates need to discuss the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance and future prospects for Asian diplomacy from a broad perspective.


— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sept. 9, 2020.

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